Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Prosecutor ‘Benched’

Those who know me will tell you that I love Capital Talk which airs on K24. Given the number of soaps in our television sets I had turned on to Kiss TV however they re-branded and things got from good to as worse as they could be!  

Hence my love affair with Capital Talk which is brought to our sitting rooms everyday at 8 and 10.30pm by the so able Jeff Koinange (a former CNN Africa reporter). Among the personalities he has interviewed are seating and former head of states, public personalities, businessmen, entrepreneurs and normal Kenyans with extra-ordinary stories to tell.

Last year, I remember Blogging about M. Wrong on the bench (one of my favorite last year not to mention former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo).

This year, I remove my hat to Jeff Koinange and his K24 crew for securing an interview with the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo.
This was done in the sidelines of the summons of the Ocampo 6 at The Hague i.e. the first week of April 2011.

It was note worthy that Jeff Koinange managed to give us a glimpse of the prosecutor we had NOT seen. The picture of the prosecutor I had observed was the emotionless, no none sense person but we got to know a bit about where he hails from Argentina if you missed. He was the prosecutor of the top military generals who had committed crimes in Argentina when South America competed with Africa in that respect. This story has radically changed with time as a result of good governance. Countries such as Brazil are the engines of economic growth in the world and offer alternative development paradigms.

The prosecutor told as a little bit about his background. His grandfather was a general in the Argentine army and his father a colonel. He also, spoke a bit on his stint as the lead prosecutor in Argentina military trials. He talked about how he was loathed by the whole country (including his own mother!) but later turned to be loved. Talk of being on the right side of history.
He also alluded that he is a man of passion. By this I mean he seeks the things that he has a passion for. Perhaps this can explain the jest in which he takes his work. This is because he has a passion for it!
He also talked of being an optimist. In that he sees the glass half full as opposed to being half empty.

The Prosecutor and Kenya
During the interview the prosecutor was under no illusion that he can single handedly change the country pointing out that as a prosecutor he cannot FIX our country. He did point out that it is up to Kenyan’s to decide who their leaders are and that all he was doing was prosecuting the person’s who had the greatest responsibilities for Post Election Violence (PEV) in 2008. He is doing this under the mandate of the international community. He was however, optimistic that though the ICC process he can contribute in the transformation process of Kenya to become a better country in a ‘small’ way.

Elections in Africa
On the Kenyan case he pointed out that this cases at The Hague are different form other in that this is about a disputed election. Unlike, the Bemba case (DR Congo) and Kony (Northern Uganda) which are about contested spaces (warlords).

Considering there are about 16 elections to be conducted in Africa in 2011-2012. It is imperative the international community gives clear signals that the habits that are synonymous with Africa incumbents of rigging elections and clinging to power are brought to an end.
So this is a chance for Africa to change.

The prosecutor also alluded to the fact that he would like to be invited to witness the swearing in ceremony of the president elected after the 2012 elections.

Kenya and Sovereignty
Some of the people leading for the trial of the so called Ocampo 6 have made their arguments around the issue of sovereignty. Arguing that cases brought to the ICC are for failed states.
In fact, the debate has been so intense as to come to the point of challenging the normal business of NGO’s, civic society and diplomatic mission.

However, when Jeff put this question to the prosecutor he was of the opinion that Kenya will show the world an example of how to go about in terms of a dispute. The prosecutor pointed out that Kenyan’s will come out of this process being winners. 
This is rightly so considering Kenya will be the first nation to question admissibility of the court among the Rome statute signatories.

ICC Cases
The prosecutor alluded to his thoughts and perspective on the cases he is prosecuting. When asked about his thoughts on the PEV cases. At first he thought it was a police operation when the chief mediator Kofi Annan presented him with the ‘Waki’ envelope.

However, the evidence pointed in to two distinct cases. These cases were the people who planned the violence in case of defeat and the people who reacted to the violence. Hence he built his case on this.
It is on his explanations that I fully understood how journalist Sang had come into the picture i.e. attending meetings and giving signal while broadcasting. This is opposed to what I had in mind i.e. propaganda.

When asked if he had any personal vendetta on the suspects he answered on the contrary. He said he did not have any grudge against anyone despite even Mr. Ruto calling the prosecutor ‘an evil man’. He talking of having shaken their hands and that he would be happy if they proved him wrong in court. Eluding to the fact that JUSTICE is NOT about putting people in JAIL. It is about TRUTH.

Retirement Plans
The prosecutor also hinted on his retirement plans given that his term at ICC as a prosecutor comes to an end in 2012. Some of his achievements will be living an institution in place with his office of 300 staff.
He pointed out that he could retire to Harvard.

However, in the mean time he is looking forward to great legal debates in court. Given the suspects have very good defense councils. 

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