ICC summonses six Kenyans for post-poll violence

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The International Criminal Court issued summonses Tuesday for six Kenyans accused of masterminding 2007-08 post-vote violence that claimed up to 1,500 lives, to appear before it on April 7.

The six, senior allies of President Mwai Kibaki and of his rival Raila Odinga, were ordered to make initial appearances in two separate hearings before the court on that date, four months after they were named as suspects.

They face charges of crimes against humanity after the ICC's prosecutor accused them of being "most responsible" for the violence that also left 3,500 people injured and up to 600,000 forcibly displaced.

"There are reasonable grounds to believe that criminal responsibility... can be attributed to the persons named in the prosecutor's application for the occurrence of the crimes against humanity," the ICC said in two separate decisions published on its website Tuesday.

The charges include murder, deportation, rape, inhumane acts, persecution and torture.

It divides the six into two groups, ordering Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, public service head Francis Muthaura and former police chief Mohammed Hussein Ali to appear at 2:30 pm (1330 GMT) on April 7.

Sacked education minister William Ruto, Industrialisation Minister Henry Kosgey and radio executive Joshua arap Sang must appear at 9:30 am, said the court.

There were reasonable grounds to believe that the Kenyatta group was responsible for attacks against supporters of Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (OMD) with a view to keeping power Kibaki's Party for National Unity (PNU) in power, the judges found.

The group of Ruto, Kosgey and Sang, on the other hand, were believed to have been part of a plan "targeting members of the civilian population supporting the PNU, in order to punish them and evict them from the Rift Valley with the ultimate goal of gaining power and creating a uniform ODM voting block."

Naming the six suspects last December, the ICC's chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said the post-election period of 2007-2008 was one of the most violent in Kenya's history.

"These were not just crimes against innocent Kenyans," he said at the time. "They were crimes against humanity as a whole."

The prosecutor said the 30 days of violence had seen hundreds of rapes and the destruction of over 100,000 properties.

Kenyatta, the most high-profile name on the list, told reporters in Nairobi at the time that he had never committed any crime, while Muthaura said the allegations were "manifest nonsense" but he would cooperate with the court.

The ICC said on Tuesday summonses to appear should suffice as there was nothing to indicate that any of the men would fail to cooperate.

If any failed to appear, "the chamber reserves the right to replace the summonses to appear with warrants of arrests," the court said.

Kenya was plunged into violence after the December 27, 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 key suspects after Nairobi failed to set up a tribunal of its own in line with agreements brokered by former United Nations chief Kofi Annan to end the chaos.

© 2011 AFP

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