By James Macharia
NAIROBI (Reuters) - The International Criminal Court's (ICC) chief prosecutor on Thursday said Kenya's government had not cooperated fully in providing evidence for the trial of four prominent Kenyans accused of fuelling post-election violence in 2007.
The group includes leading presidential hopefuls and former finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta and former higher education minister William Ruto. They face trial in about six months, charged with masterminding the bloodshed that killed more than 1,200 people. All have said they are innocent.
Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told a news conference in Nairobi that Kenyan officials had promised her the information she required to build her case, but warned that she may be forced to file an application before judges at The Hague-based court if Kenya continued dragging its feet over the issue.
"It could be better," she said when asked about the cooperation with the Kenya government. "I came personally to urge the government to cooperate more with the ICC."
She said the ICC required the evidence by January 9, when the prosecutors must disclose their evidence to the defense.
Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga had promised speedier cooperation, Bensouda said.
President Mwai Kibaki, in his last term at the helm of east Africa's biggest economy, has publicly promised to cooperate with the ICC, but has been behind attempts to block the trials and to have the cases transferred to Nairobi.
Kibaki is wary of the ICC trials where evidence may emerge that could taint members of his government, political analysts say.
The ICC said Ruto would stand trial with radio presenter Joshua Arap Sang from April 10, while Kenyatta would appear with the head of the civil service, Francis Muthaura on April 11.
Bensouda said the ICC required information from key witnesses, including government administrators and senior police commanders in the areas where violence erupted.
So far these officials have refused to give any witness accounts, and sought court orders to shield them from doing so.
Bensouda, on a five-day tour of Kenya, said she hoped to have received the information by January 9 to prepare her case.
Earlier, Bensouda met hundreds of people displaced by deadly fighting, still living in a clutch of flimsy tents in the Rift Valley, a flashpoint of the violence, and promised them justice.
(Editing by Richard Lough; Editing by Michael Roddy)