Nairobi, July 26, 2012 (FH) – Witness intimidation is continuing in the cases of four prominent Kenyans indicted by the International Criminal Court and the Court is investigating, a senior ICC official said in Nairobi on Thursday.

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“The threats continue and maybe there will be even more threats as we get to trials,” Phakiso Mochochoko, head of the ICC’s Jurisdiction, Complementarity and Cooperation Division, told a press conference. “Those threats must stop. The government of Kenya and the ICC will work together to make sure those people threatening witnesses are brought to book. Intimidation of witnesses is a crime against the Kenyan and international law. ”

Mochochoko was speaking to journalists after meeting with Kenyan Attorney General Githu Muigai and the cabinet sub-committee on ICC issues. The talks focused on a planned visit by ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and cooperation with the Kenyan government, according to Kenya’s daily Nation newspaper. 

The ICC has charged four Kenyans, including Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Member of Parliament William Ruto with crimes against humanity for their alleged role in violence that followed December 2007 presidential elections. Both Kenyatta and Ruto plan to run for the next presidential elections, now scheduled for March 2013.  Their trial before the ICC is set for April 2013.

Former ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo also expressed concern in May for the safety of witnesses in the Kenyatta case and said the ICC had launched an inquiry into intimidation, particularly via the Internet.

The four accused are still at liberty for the moment, but Mochochoko said the ICC is monitoring them for “hate speech” in the run up to the elections, and could issue arrest warrants if they violate conditions set by the Court’s judges.

Mochochoko said the Kenyan government was cooperating with the ICC despite dalays. “There have been delays, but there have been no refusals,” he told journalists.

He said it would be up to Kenya, not the ICC, to decide whether Kenyatta and Ruto can run for elections despite their ICC indictments. Kenya’s Chief Justice Willy Mutunga said in July that the Kenyan judiciary will decide if the two will be allowed to stand.