Kenya loses bid to stop world court trials

30th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

Kenya on Tuesday lost an appeal aimed at stopping the International Criminal Court from trying six top officials, including the founding president's son, over deadly post-election violence.

Nairobi had challenged the two cases, arguing that it would prosecute them in Kenya, but the ICC's pre-trial chamber had ruled proceedings should go ahead. Kenya lodged an appeal but on Tuesday the ICC rejected that too.

"The pre-trial chamber correctly decided and... the case against the suspects is admissable," said ICC appeals judge Daniel David Ntanda Nsereko.

The Kenyan government had first challenged the cases' admissibility on March 31, in a belated bid to stop the trials.

The six face charges of crimes against humanity -- including murder, forcible transfer and persecution -- over weeks of nationwide violence that left around 1,500 people dead and displaced hundreds of thousands.

The court's pre-trial chamber however rejected Nairobi's application, saying "the available evidence and arguments show that there is no concrete action demonstrating that investigations are in progress".

Kenya appealed the court's ruling on June 6, saying the ICC's pre-trial chamber erred on legal, factual and procedural grounds and asked for the cases to be declared inadmissible.

But on Tuesday judge Nsereko agreed with pre-trial judges, saying they were correct in their assessment of Kenya's case, including on a finding that Nairobi had not shown it was doing enough to probe the suspects.

The findings by the pre-trial chamber, said Judge Nsereko, showed Kenya "failed to submit information that showed concrete investigative steps have been taken against the suspects.

"No clear error can be identified on the pre-trial chamber's part, nor can it be said that the pre-trial chamber was biased," he said.

The accused are divided into two groups, with sacked higher education minister William Ruto, former industrialisation minister Henry Kosgey and radio executive Joshua arap Sang, scheduled to appear from Thursday onwards to argue if charges against them should be confirmed or not.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, public service head Francis Muthaura and former police chief Mohammed Hussein Ali are to face ICC judges later this month for a similar process.

Kenyatta is the son of Kenya's founding president and one of the richest and most influential men in the country.

The six are all senior allies of President Mwai Kibaki and of his then election rival Raila Odinga, who is now Kenya's prime minister.

The quashing of the appeal "cleared the way to the confirmation of charges in the Kenya case," ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said after the judgement.

Kenya was plunged into violence after the December 7, 2007, general elections in which then opposition chief Odinga accused Kibaki of having rigged his re-election.

What began as political riots soon turned into ethnic killings targeting Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe.

They launched reprisal attacks in which homes were torched and people hacked to death in the country's worst violence since independence in 1963.

The Hague-based ICC, the world's only independent, permanent tribunal for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity, took charge of trying the suspects after Nairobi failed to set up a tribunal of its own in line with agreements brokered by former UN chief Kofi Annan to end the chaos.

The violence shattered Kenya's image as a beacon of stability in the region and the ICC cases against some of the country's most powerful men continues to shake up the country's political landscape.

Kenya is to hold freesh elections next year.

© 2011 AFP

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