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UN SG urges justice in Kenya shopping mall terrorist attack

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] on Sunday condemned [televised statement] the terrorist attack at a Nairobi shopping mall and urged the perpetrators to be brought to justice quickly. On Saturday, a group of armed fighters stormed the Westgate shopping mall and at least 62 people died and 175 were injured [Kenya Red Cross fact sheet, PDF] in the attack. The Somali Islamist group al-Shabab [BBC backgrounder] has claimed responsibility [BBC report] for the attack, citing displeasure over Kenya's military intervention in Somalia. Ban said, "[t]his premeditated act, targeting defenceless civilians, is totally reprehensible. The perpetrators must be brought to justice as soon as possible." The attack has also drawn criticism from the UN Security Council [official website], who condemned the attack and reiterated their responsibility under the UN Charter [text] to combat terrorism. Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] has also chastised [press release] the group for the attack, stating that, "al-Shabab's blatant disregard for life in its attack on a Nairobi shopping centre on Saturday is a despicable affront to basic human rights." AI urged the Kenyan authorities to engage in a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation.

The attack also affected the ongoing trial of Kenya Deputy President William Ruto [ICC materials; JURIST news archive], who on Saturday requested [JURIST report] that the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website; JURIST backgrounder] postpone his trial so he can return to Kenya to deal with the attack. Ruto's lawyers reportedly claimed that he was needed in Kenya to oversee security and to deal with the social and political repercussions of the attack. Ruto is on trial for three counts of crimes against humanity for allegedly fomenting violence following the 2007 elections, leading to the deaths of at least 1,100 people and displacement of more than 600,000. Earlier this month Ruto pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to the charges. Also this month, Kenya's National Assembly voted to withdraw from the ICC [JURIST report], a move which has prompted criticism [JURIST op-ed]. Ruto is the first senior serving politician to appear in an international court. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta [official website] is also charged with crimes against humanity, but his trial is not set to begin until November 12.

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