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ICC prosecutor accuses officials in Kenya post-election violence investigation

[JURIST] International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] on Wednesday submitted [press release] to ICC judges the names of 20 senior political and business leaders who “bear the gravest responsibility” for the deadly violence perpetrated after Kenya’s 2007 presidential election [JURIST news archive]. According to Moreno-Ocampo, the 20 officials, whose names are confidential, organized and financed the post-election attacks against civilians and have yet to face prosecution for their alleged crimes in Kenya. Ocampo stressed that the officials have not been formally charged, but remain under investigation:

At this stage, the names are indicative only. The allegations concerning the named individuals will have to be measured against the evidence gathered independently by my office. If the Judges authorize the investigation, I will engage those who wish to clarify their role or provide further information.

The list includes officials from both the Party for National Unity (PNU) and the rival Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), both of whom Ocampo alleges used their political and tribal power to achieve "political objectives to retain or gain power." Under the ICC's complementarity principle, the investigation may only proceed if Kenya does not conduct its own investigation into the matter, which it has thus far failed to do [JURIST report].

Last month, the ICC judges requested that Ocampo provide additional information regarding his request to open a formal investigation [JURIST reports] into allegations of crimes against humanity committed during the post-election violence in Kenya. The judges stated that clarification and additional information was necessary to properly exercise their review function authorized under Article 15 of the Rome Statute [text]. The ICC assigned three judges [JURIST report] to the Kenyan situation in November after receiving a letter from Moreno-Ocampo in which he said that he intended to request formal authorization to initiate an investigation. Moreno-Ocampo's submission to investigate the Kenyan situation is historic, in that it is the first time he has used his proprio motu power, which allows him to initiate formal investigations upon authorization by the Pre-Trial Chamber. The allegations of fraud [JURIST report] following the 2007 elections led to violence that caused the deaths of more than 1,000 people and displacement of 500,000 others.

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