Kenya asks ICC to dismiss election violence cases

AP News
Posted: Apr 04, 2011 12:27 PM
Kenya asks ICC to dismiss election violence cases

Kenya has asked an international court to drop cases against six senior leaders accused of orchestrating the violence that erupted after its disputed 2007 presidential elections.

In a letter released Monday, Kenyan authorities said the country's new constitution and judicial reforms mean it can now prosecute post-election violence cases itself.

The world's first permanent war crimes tribunal is a court of last resort, meaning it can only prosecute suspects if their own governments are unwilling or unable to do so.

The International Criminal Court's judges granted prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo permission in March 2010 to open an investigation into the deadly violence after Kenyan politicians failed to agree on how to prosecute suspects.

Last month judges summoned the six leaders to appear at the court on April 7 and 8 to face crimes against humanity charges.

Lawyers for Kenya have asked to take part in the hearings and requested a chance to explain the country's reforms, as its application for the cases to be dropped is "of vital importance to the national interest and future of Kenya and its people."

Kenyan lawyers also wrote that the government "hopes the prosecutor may share the outcome of his investigations to date with the appropriate Kenyan authorities" in order to help the Kenyan investigations.

No one was immediately available for comment at the prosecutor's office in The Hague.

Among those called to appear in court were Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, former higher education minister William Ruto, former Minister of Industrialization Henry Kiprono Kosgey and Cabinet secretary Francis Kirimi Muthaura. Also summoned were former police chief Mohammed Hussein Ali and broadcaster Joshua Sang.

None of the six has been charged in Kenya in connection with the postelection violence.

Kenya saw a surge in violence after President Mwai Kibaki was declared winner of the December 2007 vote that supporters of opponent Raila Odinga said was rigged. More than 600,000 people were forced from their homes and over 1,000 people were killed in brutal attacks that shattered Kenya's reputation as a haven of stability in Africa.

The postelection clashes erupted along tribal lines and were only stopped after former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan mediated a peace agreement that created a coalition government that included Odinga as prime minister.