In Summary
  • Mr Crane said the ICC should never have got itself into the position it has
  • President Kenyatta is due to stand trial next month at the ICC, the first time for a sitting head of state

A former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has criticised the cases brought against Kenya’s president and vice-president, warning that the indictments could damage the international justice system.

David Crane, the US lawyer who built the case against Liberia’s former president Charles Taylor, told the UK’s Guardian newspaper that his successors at The Hague had ignored political realities in pursuing the Kenyan prosecution, which he said “could be the beginning of a long slide into irrelevance for international law”.

Following calls for immunity for all serving African heads of state by the African Union last week, Mr Crane said the ICC should never have got itself into the position it has. (READ: AU resolves to shield UhuRuto from ICC)

“I would never have indicted or gotten involved in justice for the Kenyan tragedy,” said Crane, a former chief prosecutor of the special court for Sierra Leone, a precursor to the ICC. “It’s placed them (the ICC) in a situation where they are damned if they do or damned if they don’t.”

Crane said the cases he built from 2002-05 had taken into account local politics as well as the law. “Politics is the bright red thread of modern international law, a successful prosecution must factor in the international stage.”

President Kenyatta is due to stand trial next month at the ICC, the first time for a sitting head of state, although he has been excused from attending some of the sessions.

He stands accused with Vice-President William Ruto of masterminding the violence that killed at least 1,113 people in the wake of a disputed election at the turn of 2007-08.

While human rights groups claim acceding to AU demands for immunity would set a terrible precedent, Mr Crane said the ICC should have used the threat of its intervention to instigate reforms rather than launching prosecutions that were never going to be supported by the political elite.