Kenyan politician seeks to stop ICC case on clashes

By benim
In East Africa
Dec 10th, 2010
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A senior Kenyan politician has asked the International Criminal Court not to name him and other suspects behind the violence that killed hundreds after disputed elections in 2007, local media said on Thursday.

According to Citizen TV, William Ruto, who has been suspended from his post as a minister, said in an application to the ICC that he had reason to believe that he would be named as a suspect by The Hague court.

It was not immediately clear whether Ruto’s legal move would succeed in preventing the ICC from carrying out its plans to release names. Ruto has denied any role in instigating violence.

“Ruto believes he will suffer irreparable harm should the prosecutor decide to present a criminal case that includes his name before the ICC judges,” Citizen TV said, quoting the application.

Associate Legal Outreach Officer at the ICC Fadi El Abdallah said there was no public filing that has been submitted. Legal sources said it was possible, however, that the case has been lodged confidentially or is yet to be filed.

The office of the prosecutor did not immediately comment and Ruto and his lawyers were unavailable to comment on the report.

The ICC’s chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, has said that on December 15 he will identify six people he believes orchestrated the clashes that followed the 2007 election.

Moreno-Ocampo has said he will bring two cases in Kenya, with three people charged in each.

The ICC’s investigation into Kenya’s post-election violence has driven a wedge into the cabinet, but opinion polls show the probe is backed by a majority of Kenyans.

Many Kenyans view the ICC process as key to avoiding a repeat of the bloodshed when the country votes again in 2012.

Should top government officials be on the ICC prosecutors’ hit-list, as is widely believed, it may cause angry reaction that could spill onto the streets.

“There is a chance that there will be violent reaction once the names are known,” human rights lawyer Harun Ndubi said.

“That violent reaction may come because politicians are mobilising their supporters over this matter.”

FRESH INVESTIGATIONS

Ruto said Moreno-Ocampo could not have conducted his own investigations but was relying on the investigations of others, and demanded “fresh, independent, fair and impartial investigations,” the application said.

He said an agreement that gave ICC investigators authority to operate in Kenya was signed in September this year, yet the prosecutor had written to Ruto asking him to explain what he knew about the violence in April 2010.

The fighting flared up after Prime Minister Raila Odinga, then Ruto’s ally, accused his arch rival and incumbent Mwai Kibaki of stealing the presidential vote.

About 1,300 people were killed during the mayhem that dented investor confidence in the country.

Ruto, who was suspended as Higher Education minister by Kibaki so that he can face corruption charges relating to a fraudulent land deal, travelled to The Hague last month in a bid to clear his name in connection with the election bloodshed.

The state-funded Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) said Ruto, Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and others were architects of the violence. Kenyatta failed in a court bid to have his name expunged from the report, while Ruto is still fighting a legal battle to have his name cleared.

- Reuters

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