THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The International Criminal Court prosecutor said Tuesday she is prepared to work with Kenya to bring to justice the attackers responsible for the deadly siege on an upscale Nairobi shopping mall.
Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement that while Kenya has primary jurisdiction in the slaying of civilians in the Westgate Mall, the atrocity could also fall under the court's jurisdiction. Bensouda's statement came a day after the Hague-based court adjourned the trial of Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and let him fly home to help deal with the mall crisis.
Ruto is on trial for allegedly orchestrating violence in the aftermath of Kenya's 2007 presidential election. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges. The al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militant group attacked the mall on Saturday, killing at least 60 people. Kenyan security forces continued operations Tuesday to end the siege.
The International Criminal Court is a tribunal of last resort — meaning that it takes on cases only where national jurisdictions are unable or unwilling to prosecute them. It is not clear if Kenya would want ICC help investigating and prosecuting the mall attack. The country has sought to have the case of Ruto — and the ICC prosecution of President Uhuru Kenyatta on similar charges linked to the 2007-08 post-election violence — returned to national authorities.
The Hague-based court has a vexed relationship with Kenya and other African nations. Some countries in the African Union are calling for a withdrawal from the 11-year-old court. The topic is expected to be discussed by African Union nations next month.
All of the indictments issued so far by the court have been against African suspects.