Karim Khan, the lawyer who represented Deputy President William Ruto at the International Criminal Court, has been elected as the court’s chief prosecutor.
Khan was DP Ruto’s lead counsel when he faced crimes against humanity charges in the run up to Kenya’s general elections in 2013. He garnered 72 votes in a secret ballot, 10 more than the threshold.
Khan beat Fergal Gaynor of Ireland (42 votes), Spain’s Carlos Castresana Fernandez (five votes) and Francesco Lo Voi of Italy (three votes).
Khan, a British lawyer, replaces Gambian Fatou Bensouda whose term has ended. His nine-year term at the Hague-based court starts on June 16 this year.
Khan has vast legal experience in international human rights issues. He has previously served as Legal Officer in the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, and as a Legal Adviser at the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
Besides DP Ruto, Khan also represented Francis Muthaura, former Head of Civil Service.
The ICC prosecutor is one of the toughest in international law due to the court’s mandate to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
Gambian-born Bensouda had mixed success. She secured high-profile convictions against Congolese warlord Bosco “Terminator” Ntaganda and Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army commander Dominic Ongwen.
The jury is still out on whether she faired better than her predecessor Luis Moreno-Ocampo. Ocampo was described in some quarters as “autocratic”, at one time the ICC ordering a probe into President Uhuru Kenyatta’s charges of crimes against humanity. Bensouda later dropped the charges.