Kenya leaders appear before ICC to deny charges of ethnic killings

[JURIST] Three prominent Kenyans appeared before the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] in The Hague on Thursday to hear the charges [materials] against them in connection with the violence that followed [JURIST news archive] the December 2007 Kenyan general elections. Facing charges including murder, deportation, rape, inhumane acts, persecution and torture, the two suspended government ministers and one radio executive denied the allegations of stirring up ethnic hatred that left at least 1,200 people dead and half a million others forced from their homes. The three men are half of the group being called the Ocampo Six that allegedly orchestrated the violence, with the remaining three men facing similar proceedings in the ICC on Friday. The ICC has divided the group according to political allegiances, since the men are accused of fomenting violence from each side of the unrest that resulted after supporters of President Mwai Kibaki were accused of rigging the 2007 election. The violence ended when Kibaki and his rival Raila Odinga agreed to share power by making Odinga prime minister, and to prosecute perpetrators of the violence either in Kenya or The Hague.

Last week, Kenya submitted requests [JURIST report] to the ICC to dismiss the cases [motion, PDF] against the six Kenyans. Kenyan authorities emphasized that "the ICC's jurisdiction [is] complementary to national criminal jurisdictions" and argued that, with its new constitution and reformed judicial system, Kenyan officials are capable of prosecuting the cases domestically. However, the ICC summoned the six suspects [JURIST report] last month after determining that Kenyan authorities had failed to try the cases at home. On Thursday, presiding judge Ekaterina Trendafilova echoed earlier warnings by ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] to the six Kenyan suspects that the summonses would be altered and arrests would ensue if they did not comply [JURIST report] with the court's conditions, including prohibitions on speeches that may incite more bloodshed in Kenya.

 

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