International Criminal Court to start prosecutions in Kenya's postelection violence

Published September 21, 2010

| Associated Press

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The International Criminal Court will launch cases against as many as six suspected instigators of postelection violence in Kenya that left more than 1,000 people dead in 2007-08, the chief prosecutor announced Tuesday.

Luis Moreno Ocampo said in a statement that he will present two separate cases to judges before the end of the year charging between four and six people he believes "bear the greatest responsibility for the most serious crimes."

Tuesday's statement did not mention the names of potential suspects or give more detail on when Moreno Ocampo would file the cases to judges at the court, who would have to authorize any arrest warrants. In April, Moreno Ocampo said he had a list of 20 possible suspects that included leaders of President Mwai Kibaki's Party of National Unity and Prime Minister Raila Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement.

Kenya asked the court to help investigate the violence, but its commitment to cooperate with the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal was called into question last month when the country refused to arrest Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir during a visit. Al-Bashir has been indicted for genocide for allegedly masterminding atrocities in Sudan's Darfur region.

Moreno Ocampo underscored in his statement that both Kibaki and Odinga — political rivals in the disputed election that led to the violence — had publicly expressed support for his investigation.

He also said he hopes "the Kenyan justice system will ultimately deal with the many perpetrators that the ICC will not prosecute."

The international tribunal is a court of last resort that takes on cases only when a country is unwilling or unable to bring to justice perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Judges at the court publicly rebuked Kenya in August for failing to arrest al-Bashir, saying the country had "a clear obligation to cooperate" in enforcing arrest warrants.

Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula defended inviting al-Bashir to celebrate Kenya's new constitution, saying al-Bashir is the "head of state of a friendly neighbor state."

Riots and ethnic fighting killed more than 1,000 people and forced 600,000 from their homes after Kenya's disputed 2007 presidential election.

Moreno Ocampo has said the wave of violence included murder, rape and forcible deportations that could amount to crimes against humanity.

A commission set up by the new government recommended establishing a special tribunal to prosecute perpetrators, but Parliament rejected the proposal last year.