[JURIST] Three Kenyan officials made an initial appearance before the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] on Friday and were notified of the charges pending against them [materials, PDF; press release], stemming from violence surrounding the December 2007 Kenyan elections [JURIST news archive]. The charges against the men under the Rome Statute [text] of the ICC include rape, murder, forcible deportation and persecution. The purpose of the hearing was to verify the identity of the suspects, inform them of their rights under the Rome statute and to ensure that they were informed of the pending charges. Uhuru Muigui Kenyatta, current Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, was among those appearing before the court, and is accused of conspiring with the Mungiki criminal organization [Safer Access backgrounder, PDF] to target members of an opposing political party. During the hearing the presiding judge also noted that the court was aware of reports of efforts within Kenya to reignite the violence, and stressed that “retriggering the violence in Kenya, by way of delivering dangerous speeches” would not be tolerated and would result in “drastic measures,” including issuing arrest warrants if court procedures are not followed [JURIST report]. The court is scheduled to hold a confirmation of charges hearing in September in order to determine whether there is sufficient evidence against the suspects to continue to trial.
Three Kenyan leaders connected with the opposing political party appeared before the ICC [JURIST report] on Thursday for their alleged roles in the election violence. Together the two groups of suspects are known as the “Ocampo Six” and their hearings were separated based upon political party affiliation. The men brought before the ICC on Thursday are members of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) [party website] and were charged with targeting members of the opposing Party for National Unity (PNU) following the election of Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki [official profile], which they claimed was rigged. All six suspects are believed to have fomented violence, rape and destruction of property during the 30 days of post-election violence, and the ICC summoned the suspects [JURIST report] after determining they were not charged in Kenya for the alleged crimes. Last week, Kenya requested that the ICC dismiss the case [JURIST report], arguing that the government is capable of prosecuting the six men domestically. The Kenyan government also announced last month that it would challenge the admissibility of cases [JURIST report] relating to the post-election violence in the ICC, as well as the jurisdiction of the court.