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Kenya rights group accuses official of interfering with ICC election investigation

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) [advocacy website] on Friday accused former Cabinet minster William Ruto of interfering with the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] investigation into the 2007 post-election violence [JURIST news archive], denying accusations of bribing witnesses. Two witnesses, Ken Braziz Wekesa and William Kepkemboi Rono, claimed Tuesday that they were bribed by the KNCHR [Daily Nation], a government-funded human rights group, to testify to the ICC against Ruto, the former higher education minister. Rono and Wekesa claimed they were bribed by KNCHR commissioner Hassan Omar Hassan [KNCHR profile] with money, entry into safe houses and an eventual promise to be moved out of Kenya. The KNCHR, admitting they housed the prospective witnesses [Daily Nation], requested an investigation into Ruto's influence on the witnesses to change their testimonies. The KNCHR also wants the police to arrest Wekesa and Rono and charge them with perjury. Although the two witnesses gave statements to the ICC, they were not slated to testify at the tribunal. The ICC announced a month ago that it would present two cases against the six individuals most responsible for causing the post-election violence, down from the initial 20 officials [JURIST reports] the ICC prosecutor initially accused. It has not been revealed if Ruto will be among those charged, although he was implicated in the initial report on the violence [text, PDF] compiled by the KNCHR.

In September, a businessman challenged the legality of the ICC investigation, claiming it was made illegal by Kenya's recently ratified constitution [JURIST reports]. However, Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo [official website], said the government supports the investigation [JURIST report]. The ICC began conducting an investigation in March after the Kenyan parliament rejected [JURIST reports] conducting their own in February. The Kenyan presidential election of 2007 [JURIST report] left at least 1,000 people dead and 500,000 displaced in Kenya after protests erupted from allegations that President Mwai Kibaki [official profile] committed voter fraud.

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