Poisoning scare as ICC official finds tablet in his food in Kenya

fatou bensouda ICC

An ICC team visiting Kenya had a scare after a tablet was found in the food of one of its members.

Police are investigating the incident at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

Mr Roach Purnell, the head of the International Criminal Court’s Support Unit, was taking breakfast at the Kenya Airways lounge when he found a tablet in his food.

But police spokesman Eric Kiraithe on Tuesday said that even though they did not have all the facts, they were looking into the matter. “We are reliably told that he served himself and this makes us doubt whether he was being targeted. It could be a case of corporate war or just a matter of hygiene,” said Mr Kiraithe.

On noticing the tablet, Mr Purnell is said to have reported the matter to the management of the catering services company, which took the sample to a private analyst without informing the Kenyan airline.

The private analyst demanded Sh430,000 ($5,000) which the catering firm could not raise immediately, prompting the analyst to return the sample.

KQ’s head of catering Abdalla Masoud, who was tipped of the matter, informed the airline’s head of security Swalleh Slim and the Kenya Airports Police Unit deputy CID boss Joseph Ng’an’ga.

Detectives from KAPU on Tuesday forwarded the tablet to the Government Chemist for analysis. However, some detectives said they were not sure whether the tablet forwarded was the original one.

Witnesses were still recording statements on Tuesday, but Mr Purnell, who flew to Amsterdam shortly thereafter, left without recording a statement.

This implies that even if a suspect were arrested, he or she may not be charged in court without the statement of the complainant. However, such a statement can be recorded anywhere, before the police or a lawyer, and sent to the Kenyan detectives.

Kenya Airways corporate communications manager Chris Karanja declined to comment on the matter, saying the police were dealing with it.

“I believe the matter has been taken up by the police. Please contact the airport police on the same,” said Mr Karanja.

ICC communications officer Nicola Fletcher declined to state whether Mr Purnell had reported the matter to The Hague, stating that the court did not respond to reports in the media.

“We have received this enquiry from you. Please note as a matter of principle we do not comment on speculation in the media,” she said.

The incident comes at a time the ICC has sounded a warning over reports that prosecution witnesses due to testify at the trial of four prominent Kenyans at the court are increasingly being threatened.

The ICC had warned that the threats to witnesses and family members of those perceived to be witnesses could further intensify as the trial, now three months away, gets closer.

Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, former Eldoret North MP William Ruto, former Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura and FM radio journalist Joshua arap Sang are facing charges of crimes against humanity stemming from the 2007/08 post election violence- Nation



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