Politics and policy

ICC judges formally drop charges against Muthaura

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Former Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura (centre) with his legal team headed by Karim Khan (right) at a news conference at the Serena Hotel on Wednesday. Photo/Phoebe Okall

Former Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura (centre) with his legal team headed by Karim Khan (right) at a news conference at the Serena Hotel on Wednesday. Photo/Phoebe Okall 

By George Omondi

Posted  Monday, March 18  2013 at  22:10

In Summary

  • The decision reached by majority of the ICC’s Trial Chamber V judges terminated the proceedings against Mr Muthaura.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) formally dropped the charges against former head of civil service Francis Muthaura Monday, one week after prosecution made the request.

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The decision reached by majority of the ICC’s Trial Chamber V judges terminated the proceedings against Mr Muthaura and ordered the registrar of the Netherland-based court to notify Kenya.

“At this juncture, all confidential filings by the Muthaura defence and other confidential filings pertaining to Mr Muthaura alone remain confidential; and order participants, as well as the registry, to remove “Francis Kirimi Muthaura” from the case name for all subsequent filings,” Judge Kuniko Ozaki said.

The ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda had on March 11 announced her decision to withdraw the charges against Mr Muthaura citing limited support from the government after key witnesses either died or received bribes.

Together with the president-elect Uhuru Kenyatta and four other prominent Kenyans, Mr Muthaura was initially charged by ICC prosecutors with orchestrating violence after the 2007 election that lead to death of 1,200 people and destruction of property.

The lawyers representing the victims had initially opposed the automatic withdrawal of the cases by the prosecution saying only the judges could make such a decision.

The eventual withdrawal of charges against Mr Muthaura comes just months after cases of former police boss Hussein Ali and Industrialisation minister Henry Kosgey were also dropped for lack of evidence.

This leaves Mr Kenyatta, deputy president-elect William Ruto and journalist Joshua Sang as the suspects awaiting trial.

The move has emboldened lawyers representing Mr Kenyatta in their push to have charges against him dropped.

Last week, Mr Muthaura’s lawyer Karim Khan said the withdrawal was an important test for the court, which was set up more than a decade ago as the world’s first permanent war crimes tribunal, but has only secured one conviction.