British lawyer Karim Khan has been elected the new prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, replacing outgoing Gambian Fatou Bensouda.
In the election by member states, Mr Khan garnered 72 votes in the second round of voting, defeating Irishman Fergal Gaynor who scored 42 votes.
The race to succeed Bensouda had involved an all-European contest and the four final contestants included Spain’s Carlos Castresana Fernández, and Italy’s Francesco Lo Voi.
The British legal mind Khan had won in the first round with 59 votes but they were insufficient with 123 of the 124 member states voting, forcing the election for the second round.
He will become the first European Prosecutor for the ICC in its 20-year history.
The veteran lawyer who represented Deputy President William Ruto and former Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura, when they faced up charges of crimes against humanity relating to the 2008 post-election violence is said to have banked on his extensive contacts in Africa and Asia to lobby for the seat.
The charges against Mr Muthaura (in a case in which President Uhuru Kenyatta had also been indicted) were dropped in March 2013, after a sole witness that tied him to the crimes recanted while Ruto’s was terminated in 2016, following claims of insufficient evidence.
Khan also represented Bahar Idriss Abu Garda, a Sudanese rebel initially indicted by the ICC for war crimes in Darfur. The Court declined to confirm his charges in February 2010.
Khan had earlier served as Legal Adviser at the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) until 2000, and later was defence lawyer for former Liberian leader Charles Taylor at the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL).
Khan is currently the head of the UN Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL.
In the race to replace Gambian Fatou Bensouda, Morris Anyah of Nigeria, Susan Okalany of Uganda, Carlos Castresana Fernandez of Spain, Fergal Gaynor of Ireland and Robert Petit of Canada had vied for the position.
Richard Roy of Canada, France’s Brigitte Raynaud and Francesco Lo Voi of Italy were the other candidates competing against Mr Khan in the initial list.