Hague court prosecutor to investigate Kenya violence

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The International Criminal Court has approved an investigation into violent clashes after Kenya’s 2007 presidential election, raising the prospect that Kenyan leaders could face trial in The Hague.

ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said yesterday the court had approved the request he submitted last November.

He has said that Kenyan political leaders organised and financed attacks on civilians and has cited figures from Kenyan authorities that 1220 people were killed, hundreds were raped and more than 350 000 forcibly displaced in ethnic clashes that broke out after the hotly disputed election.

He has submitted a confidential list of 20 names of those “who appear to bear the gravest responsibility.”
“The ICC will do its part but the Kenyans will be in the lead,” Moreno-Ocampo said in a statement, adding there would be “no impunity for those most responsible”.

The ethnic clashes shattered Kenya’s image as a stable centre for trade and tourism and the economic powerhouse of east Africa.
“It’s a very important statement in terms of fighting impunity in Kenya,” Omar Hassan, vice chairman of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, said of the decision.

On a visit to Kenya late last year, Moreno-Ocampo said he believed he had a strong case against a few individuals and was pursuing the investigation because Kenya’s leaders had decided against referring the case themselves to The Hague.
“I welcome the decision,” Mutula Kilonzo, Kenya’s justice minister, told Reuters through a text message.

Seeking justice

In a court filing earlier this month, Moreno-Ocampo said senior political and business leaders from Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and President Mwai Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU) were “guided by political objectives to retain or gain power”.

Former legislator Jane Kihara, who lost her seat in the botched election and has openly admitted that her name may be on the list, told Reuters she was ready to face the tribunal.
“I have not heard about it (the decision) but as I have said in the past, am ready to face the tribunal so that the truth can be known. If my name is among those 20 been investigated, then I will not have an option but to respect the summons.”

At public meetings, Kihara has defended herself saying that she was framed for political reasons.

Yesterday’s statement, Moreno-Ocampo said Kibaki and Odinga’s “commitment to justice” and cooperation was crucial.

Former UN chief Kofi Annan, who mediated an end to the bloody conflict, warned that unless the architects of the killings were brought to book, there was a serious risk violence would erupt again at the next presidential election in 2012.

The ICC, established in 2002, is the world’s first permanent court set up to try individuals for genocide, war crimes and other major human rights violations.

The court is trying several individuals for war crimes or crimes against humanity in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Darfur, and has an outstanding arrest warrant for Sudan’s president Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

Source: www.af.reuters.com