Kenyan loses bid to defy ICC arrest

2014-01-31 13:33
Kenyan Vice President William Ruto. (AFP)

Kenyan Vice President William Ruto. (AFP)

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Nairobi - A Kenyan ex-journalist accused of witness intimidation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) has lost his bid to defy an arrest warrant issued for him, a judge ruled on Friday.

The Hague-based ICC last year issued a warrant for the arrest of Walter Barasa for allegedly trying to bribe witnesses to drop their testimony in the crimes against humanity trial of Deputy President William Ruto.

But Barasa, who denies all allegations, challenged the issuing of the warrant in a Kenyan court.

The ICC warrant must first pass before a Kenyan judge before it is acted upon.

"The applicant has not demonstrated that the extradition proceedings by the Cabinet Secretary are invalid," Kenyan High Court Judge Richard Mwongo said.

"This court finds that the Cabinet Secretary's decision to seek a warrant of arrest was within the law."

Barasa has 14 days to appeal.

Ruto's trial began in September, the highest-ranking official to do so, on charges of masterminding some of the 2007-08 post-election violence in Kenya that left over 1 000 people dead and several hundred thousand displaced.

Ruto, 46, and Kenyan radio boss Joshua arap Sang, 38, are accused of stoking the worst violence in the east African country since independence in 1963.

President Uhuru Kenyatta also faces trial for crimes against humanity. Earlier this month ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda asked for a three-month postponement to the trial, which had been scheduled to start on 5 February.

All deny the accusations.

While Kenyan lawmakers have voted to leave the court's founding Rome Statute,it remains a member and is bound to honour the ICC's demands.

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