International Criminal Court prosecutor: Investigations of Kenya violence to be an example

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Investigations by the International Criminal Court into Kenya's post-election violence should deter other African countries from holding volatile polls, the court's prosecutor said during a visit to Kenya Saturday.

Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo said the investigations will send out a signal to 15 African countries that are scheduled to hold elections in the next 18 month and discourage them from violence.

"Kenya will send out a signal to all these elections — if you commit crimes then you go to the Hague," Moreno Ocampo said.

Moreno Ocampo is in Kenya to investigate the country's 2007-2008 election violence that killed more than 1,000 people.

The prosecutor has said he believes crimes against humanity were committed during the violence. Judges at the ICC last month authorized Moreno Ocampo to open an investigation.

Past elections in Africa have often been plagued by political violence. Ethiopia, which is to hold elections this month, has struggled with election irregularities and violence, notably in the aftermath of 2005 general elections when security forces killed 193 protesters. An opposition candidate was stabbed to death in northern Ethiopia in March.

Rwanda, which is scheduled to hold elections in August, has had a series of explosions from grenade attacks in the capital in February and March that killed one and injured scores. Rwandan authorities could not say whether the attacks are related to politics.

Moreno Ocampo said his investigations in Kenya are important to ensure the country holds peaceful elections in 2012. He said he expects his investigation to take between the six and seven months.

Upon completing his investigations, Moreno Ocampo said he expects to prosecute no more than five people — those who are found to bear the most responsibility for the violence.

He said 30 to 50 witnesses will provide evidence for the charges. Ocampo said the ICC will provide security for the witnesses.

The Kenyan government has the responsibility to provide security for witnesses whose lives may be in danger but who are not in the ICC's list, he said.

Several Kenyan witnesses of the 2007-08 violence have said they lack faith in the ability of Kenya's witness protection program.

Moreno Ocampo said he will not record statements from witnesses during his current five-day visit in Kenya. He said the purpose of his visit is to meet with victims of the violence to understand their views and concerns. He also plans to listen to concerns of the people who think they are suspects in the ICC probe.