By Sophie van Leeuwen
Dutch lawyer Goran Sluiter is shocked. “All kinds of things are happening in Kenya, and now they are happening in the Netherlands as well.” The Kenyan newspaper The Daily Nation reported a “spy” tried to meet an ICC witness in the Netherlands last week.
The Dutch embassy in Nairobi has confirmed that a Kenyan government official was arrested on April 13 at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. “The man was carrying false papers,” says the first secretary at the Dutch Embassy, Stijn Janssen. He did not enter the Netherlands but was imprisoned, released and sent back to Kenya.
“This is shocking,” says Sluiter. “It raises more concerns about the Kenyan cases.” Sluiter is the lawyer of Witness 727, the last prosecution witness in the ICC case against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto.
He can’t confirm that the “spy” tried to contact his client. But Witness 727 is probably the last Kenyan prosecution witness on Dutch soil. He’s hiding in the Netherlands and is refusing to testify following serious intimidation.
Many (possible) witnesses are said to have been intimidated in the Kenyan ICC trials. The case against President Uhuru Kenyatta was dropped by the ICC prosecutor due to a lack of evidence. According to the prosecutor, Deputy President Ruto is responsible for murder, deportation and persecution during the Kenyan post-election violence of 2007-2008.
Risk of death
ICC suspects should be held in detention to prevent witness intimidation, says Sluiter. “Suspects of serious crimes are being treated so well, they are not even imprisoned. There is a huge risk of them fleeing. Also there is a risk of influencing, intimidating and even killing witnesses.”
“It’s clear that the ICC has fully underestimated these cases,” Sluiter says. “If the Kenyan trials had been calm and quiet, it might have been the right treatment. But now the ICC is ruled by fear of Kenya and the African Union. They should step up action against suspects.”
The ICC has refused to comment on the situation.
Lead image: Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto (Photo: Sophie van Leeuwen/The Hague Trials Kenya)