Kenyan ex-ministers at ICC over poll violence

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 01, 2011 10:38 AM
Kenyan ex-ministers at ICC over poll violence

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Two Kenyan politicians and a broadcaster appeared before the International Criminal Court on Thursday for hearings to decide if they should stand trial for crimes against humanity related to Kenya's election violence.

William Ruto, former higher education minister, Henry Kosgey, former industrialization minister, and Joshua Arap Sang, a broadcaster, came for the first of two sets of confirmation of charges hearings at the war crimes court -- which would also host Libya's fugitive Muammar Gaddafi if he is captured.

More than 1,220 people were killed in tribal violence after Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner of a presidential election in 2007 that was marred by alleged vote-rigging.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the ICC prosecutor, has named six high-profile Kenyan politicians and businessmen as suspects behind the riots, with charges including murder, rape and forcible transfer of people.

Kenya's government had objected to the ICC proceedings because it said its adoption of a new constitution and other reforms paved the way for it to carry out its own prosecutions. It was overruled earlier this week because it had failed to show it was conducting its own investigation of the six suspects.

If the ICC case goes ahead, it will cast a shadow over the run up to elections in 2012 in the East African country. Two of the suspects -- Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta, the current finance minister -- have said they want to run for president.

Moreno-Ocampo has said that Ruto was the principal planner and organizer of crimes against supporters of Kibaki's party.

He has also said that Ruto and Kosgey, along with Sang, plotted from at least 2006 until January 2008 to drive Kibaki supporters out of some towns in the Rift Valley using a network of politicians, media representatives, financiers, tribal elders, local leaders and former members of the security forces.

The judges will decide, based on the hearings scheduled for this month, if there is enough evidence for a trial to go ahead.

(Reporting by Sara Webb; Editing by Elizabeth Piper)