What you need to know:
- Some have narrowly escaped being knocked down by cyclists in front of the court. They often stand on bicycle lanes— leaving the locals marvelling at either their ignorance or disobedience of traffic rules.
Dutch police Thursday dramatically ordered Kenyan MPs to keep off the entrance to the ICC building in The Hague.
The lawmakers had been joined by former Commissioner of Police Hussein Ali— himself a former suspect in the crimes against humanity cases that arose from post-2007 election violence, raising questions about his presence.
The politicians, who accompanied Deputy President William Ruto in a show of solidarity, were lost for words when local police insisted that they move away from the entrance. This is where they have been lining up every morning to greet Mr Ruto.
The encounter with the Dutch officers caught the lawmakers by surprise. They protested, with some shouting: “We are the accused. We are part of the Rome Statute.” But the police would hear none of it.
The tension briefly eased when Mr Ruto arrived and the MPs and Nandi Women Representative Zipporah Kering went into prayer.
After the solemn moment, the officers insisted on escorting them and journalists to the public entrance. The two officers had the entire group enter the ICC building through the public entrance.
One of the officers, while declining to say what penalty one could suffer for disobeying the order, told the Kenyans they would no longer be allowed to stand outside the court. However, they are free to wait for Mr Ruto and his co-accused, Mr Joshua arap Sang, across the road— at least 20 metres away.
The behaviour of the 25 MPs and senators has left many Dutch nationals curious of what is happening in the ICC building. The politicians have, for instance, been kneeling and praying daily outside the court entrance as soon as Mr Ruto arrives for his trial.
During their stay in The Hague, the MPs have been frequenting Santos Restaurant in the centre of Scheveningen Village and popular surrounding entertainment spots.
Some have narrowly escaped being knocked down by cyclists in front of the court. They often stand on bicycle lanes— leaving the locals marvelling at either their ignorance or disobedience of traffic rules.
Life has become a dreary routine for them as hired buses drop them every morning and pick them in the evening— an expensive undertaking here. They are staying in hotels charging between 76 euros (Sh8,850) and 240 euros (Sh27,930) per day.
The Kenyans also have to contend with the cold weather, since it is autumn in Europe. Most of them have been wearing heavy jackets and sporting replicas of Mr Ruto’s trademark cap.
Most of the MPs are expected to leave for Nairobi between today and tomorrow. But another group will be coming to The Hague.
A surprise appearance yesterday was Mr Ali, who was accompanied by lawyer Donald Kipkorir.
The former police boss would not say whether he was there at the court’s invitation or to make an application.
“It would be prejudicial to discuss such matters. If there is anything concerning my case, it is certainly not today. May be later,” he said.
He said he had gone to give moral support to the Deputy President.
“As a person who has gone through this process, I know what they are going through,” he said.
Mr Ali was a suspect in the second Kenyan case alongside President Kenyatta and former civil service boss Francis Muthaura.
The pre-trial chamber on January 23, acquitted him. Although charges against Mr Muthaura were confirmed, he was also let off the hook much later.
Mr Ruto’s trial was adjourned to Monday when the prosecution will continue cross-examining Witness 536 in private.
Mr Sang expressed his displeasure with the decision to hold closed sessions.
“When it was declared that we bore the greatest responsibility for the crimes it was in public. The summonses to appear were issued in public and our names have been dragged through the mud,” Mr Sang said, accompanied by lawyer Joel Bosek.
“Yet, when we thought the nation could get to know the truth, the chamber decided to go into closed sessions. My wife and other family members are not here to know the truth. They have been relying on TV.”