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Africa

Six top Kenyans await ICC ruling over election violence

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-01-23

The International Criminal Court is to rule on Monday on whether six top Kenyans should face trial for crimes against humanity for their roles in the December 2007 post-election violence, in which 1,100 people died.

AFP - The International Criminal Court will Monday decide whether six top Kenyans, including Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta should face trial for their roles in bloody post-poll unrest in which 1,100 died.

Presiding Judge Ekaterina Trendafilova will read a three-judge ruling at 11:30 am (1030 GMT) at a public hearing in The Hague, where the court sits.

A written decision on the six men's involvement in the deadly violence following disputed December 2007 polls in the east African country, will be sent to them and their lawyers earlier Monday, the court said.

The six are not expected to be present during the public hearing.

Judge Trendafilova will announce whether crimes against humanity charges against the six are to be confirmed -- fully or partially -- or if ICC's chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo needed to give more information from evidence gathered during his investigation.

Ahead of the ICC decision, Nairobi sought to calm the situation.

"It is important from the onset to indicate that under the Rome Statute, either party could appeal against the ICC decision," Internal Security Permanent Secretary Francis Kimemia said in a statement issued late Saturday.

"Monday will therefore, not be fait accompli for the victims and the accused," he added, warning that "anyone irrespective of their status will be held personally responsible for inciting Kenyans before or after the ruling."

Analysts said they fear the highly-anticipated ruling could re-ignite violence should the ICC's decision be perceived as favouring one camp over the other, or simply let all of them off too cheaply.

Defence teams from both sides have rubbished the prosecution's investigations, saying there was not enough evidence to take their clients to trial.

Moreno-Ocampo was given the court's permission in March 2010 to investigate the six, three of them aligned with President Mwai Kibaki's Party of National Unity (PNU) and three others who supported the opposition Orange Democratic Movement of Raila Odinga, now the prime minister in a coalition government.

The senior figures from each group, Kenyatta as well as ex-higher education minister William Ruto, are seen as potential presidential candidates in elections set for mid-March 2013.

Kenyatta, 50, Kibaki's right-hand man Francis Muthaura, 65, and ex-police chief Mohammed Hussein Ali, 55, are accused of keeping Kenya's ruling party at the time in power "through any means necessary."

They face five counts including orchestrating murder, rape, forcible transfer and persecution in the polls' aftermath, described as "one of the most violent periods in Kenya's history."

Kenyatta, especially, has been accused of having long-running ties with the country's shadowy criminal gang called the Mungiki -- a sect-like organisation known for skinning and beheading its victims -- which he allegedly directed to attack opposition supporters.

Opposition supporters Ruto, 45, ex-industrialisation minister Henry Kosgey, 64, and radio boss Joshua arap Sang, 36, all Odinga loyalists, face three counts of murder, forcible transfer and persecution.

They are accused of "carefully orchestrating" attacks against ruling PNU supporters after Odinga accused Kibaki of rigging his way to re-election.

What began as political riots soon turned into ethnic killings targeting Kenyatta's Kikuyu tribe.

This launched reprisal attacks in which homes were torched and people hacked to death in the worst outbreak of violence since Kenya's independence in 1963.

The prosecution said 1,133 people died and several hundred thousand were displaced.

The ICC opened its doors in 2003 as the world's first permanent tribunal handling cases of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in countries which were unable or unwilling to bring them to trial on their home soil.

Date created : 2012-01-23

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