Kenyan Chief Justice Willy Mutunga said he received a letter threatening his life if he ruled Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta was ineligible to run for president because of International Criminal Court charges.
The letter “makes all manner of threats against the judges, ambassadors and my person,” he said today in an e-mailed statement. An immigration officer also made an “illegal” attempt to stop Mutunga from flying to Tanzania last week, saying the judge lacked permission from Head of Public Service Francis Kimemia.
“These incidents evidence a pattern of emerging harassment against my person, the Office of the Chief Justice, and the judiciary,” Mutunga said. “No fewer than five judges have been attacked in the recent past.”
A five-judge High Court panel on Feb. 15 ruled it had no authority to decide whether Kenyatta and running mate William Ruto are eligible to stand in the March 4 election because of the ICC cases. Both men have said they are innocent of charges of crimes against humanity in which they’re accused of instigating violence after the previous national vote in 2007.
Ballot-fixing allegations led to two months of ethnic and political clashes that killed more than 1,100 people, forced 350,000 more from their homes and brought economic growth to 1.5 percent in 2008 from 7.5 percent the previous year.
Kenyatta and Ruto’s Jubilee Coalition condemned the threats to Mutunga and urged police to boost his security while investigating who wrote the letter, according to an e-mailed statement from Jubilee Legal Affairs Secretary Jasper Mbiuki.
“We wish to emphatically deny that the chief justice has been threatened by supporters of Uhuru Kenyatta or William Ruto,” he said. “It is very easy for some mischief-makers to write a letter and say that they are Jubilee supporters when in fact they are not.”
The Mungiki Veterans Group/Kenya Sovereignty Defence Squad signed the letter, Mutunga said without elaborating.
Mungiki broadly refers to an outlawed criminal gang made up mostly of members of the Kikuyu ethnic majority. Kenyatta is Kikuyu and is accused by the ICC of using the Mungiki to carry out violence. Kenyatta’s “steadfast refusal to give in to their criminal demands has resulted in Mungiki members fabricating evidence against him” at the ICC, Mbiuki said.
Former Mungiki leader Maina Njenga created a political party which joined the Cord alliance of Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Kenyatta’s main opponent.