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ICC to investigate 2007 post-electoral violence
Two years after the event, the International Criminal Court is to investigate claims of crimes against humanity committed during the violence following Kenya's 2007 presidential election. The conflict claimed 1500 lives and left 300,000 displaced.
AFP- International prosecutors will probe crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the violent aftermath of Kenya's December 2007 presidential election, judges ruled Wednesday.
"The chamber, by majority, hereby authorises the commencement of an investigation into the situation in the Republic of Kenya in relation to crimes against humanity," the International Criminal Court said in a written decision.
"The information available provides a reasonable basis to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed on Kenyan territory," added a court statement.
Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo asked the judges last November to allow him to probe the violence that claimed about 1,500 lives, injured thousands and left about 300,000 internally displaced following elections on December 27, 2007.
Wednesday's decision, he said, was "very important", and meant that "there will be no impunity for those most responsible for crimes committed during the post-election violence.
"Justice will contribute to preventing future crimes in Kenya," said the prosecutor.
Earlier this month, Moreno-Ocampo gave judges 20 names of "senior political and business leaders" he said "organised, enticed and/or financed attacks against the civilian population on account of their perceived ethnic and/or political affiliation".
The 20 were associated with the Party of National Unity of President Mwai Kibaki and the Orange Democratic Movement led by Raila Odinga, which was then in opposition, the prosecutor's office said at the time.
The two sides are now in an uneasy power-sharing government.
Moreno-Ocampo said his confidential list contained the names of those "who appear to bear the gravest responsibility for these crimes". The rest could be tried by Kenya itself.
The prosecutor has been conducting a preliminary investigation since February 2008.
The government in Nairobi has pledged to cooperate with the ICC, but Kenya has yet to act on the recommendation of its own inquiry that a special tribunal be set up to probe the violence. The Kenyan parliament last year rejected a bill aimed at creating such a court.
The ICC started operating in 2002 as the world's only permanent independent tribunal to try war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. It can only take cases when countries are unwilling or unable prosecute.
This is the first case to come before the court at the prosecutor's own initiative. Investigations involving four other countries -- Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and Sudan -- were referred to the ICC either by countries themselves or by the UN Security Council.