DP Ruto’s ICC defense lawyer, in race to be next ICC prosecutor

9th Feb 2021, Lawyer Karim Khan, who was the lead defense lawyer at Deputy President William Ruto’s case at the International Criminal Court, could be elected the court’s next prosecutor in place of Fatou Bensouda. Irish lawyer Fergal Gaynor, who represented the Post Election Violence Victims in cases against President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto at the ICC is also on the race to succeed Bensouda.

The ICC had formerly rejected the move to replace Bensouda since Khan was missing in the shortlist.

Khan now remains the favorite to hold the position according to journalists for justice. However there could be objections against Khan as he may be considered too close to those in power in one of the ‘situation countries’ where the ICC investigates and prosecutes atrocity crimes.

Khan who is a British lawyer with roots in Pakistan has also formerly represented before the ICC former head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura.

A number of civil society groups have brought to the attention of the ICC member states the unsuitability of Khan holding the seat citing his conduct in the Kenyan cases. Though the Civil Society groups cannot cast votes in the election of the prosecutor to be, their advocacy and lobbying can reshape the perception on candidates and influence the manner in which states vote.

Khan has been faulted with his misconduct on the case of Mr Yebei of Turbo, Uasin Gishu who was found having been mutilated and tortured to death. It is reported that Mr. Khan dropped his demand for investigations on the matter as remained silent when he was questioned about it.

It is believed Gaynor could seek to resuscitate the Kenyan cases that collapsed, largely due to what the prosecution said was massive witness tampering and lack of cooperation from the state. The third candidate is Spanish prosecutor Carlos Castresana who is less well known in ICC circles.

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