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6 Prominent Kenyans Accused of Crimes Against Humanity

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Three Kenyan ministers are among six high-profile figures accused of crimes against humanity by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague. At a press conference in The Hague, ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said he was requesting charges to be brought against six prominent Kenyans who allegedly incited or facilitated ethnic violence following Kenya's 2007 elections. The judges will next decide whether to issue indictments.

The six include Kenya's suspended Education Minister William Ruto, Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Industrialization Minister Henry Kosgey. Also on the list are secretary to the cabinet Francis Kirimi Muthaura, former police chief Mohammed Hussein Ali and radio executive Joshua Arap Sang.

Members of both the parties of President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who ran against each other three years ago and subsequently formed a coalition government are also included. But Moreno-Ocampo said he had no evidence to pursue charges against either of those two men.

"These are the six names that we identified as persons who should face justice. They are still innocent. We are just presenting our, the prosecutors', evidence. The judge will decide," he said.

About 1,300 people died and 350,000 were displaced by deadly clashes that erupted following Kenya's disputed vote. A subsequent peace deal agreed the perpetrators would face trial either in Kenya or at the International Criminal Court.

Moreno-Ocampo urged the six to surrender voluntarily, but he added a warning.

"They cannot be involved in [committing] any new crime. They cannot interfere with the investigation. They cannot threaten the witnesses. They cannot bribe the witnesses. If we found they are doing that ... we will request an arrest warrant against them," he warned.

Moreno-Ocampo's accusations are politically volatile, since they target powerful politicians.

On Monday, President Kibaki said he would set up a court to try Kenyans involved in the violence, a move interpreted by some media as trying to thwart intervention by the Hague court.

But Moreno-Ocampo said the International Criminal Court had jurisdiction over the six. He said the court's role is only one part of Kenya's healing process.

"Kenya's future is in the hands of the Kenyan people. We hope to help them," Moreno-Ocampo said.

He cited Kenya's constitutional and police reforms among other positive steps to bring peace and justice to the country.

Article by Lisa Bryant, VOA News