International court to try Kenya election violence

Kenyans flee the election violence in January 2008. At least 1,300 people were killed.
By our news staff

The International Criminal Court in The Hague wants to put the main instigators of the election violence in Kenya on trial, its main prosecutor Luis Morena-Ocampo said on Wednesday.

Following a disputed election at the end of December 2007 Kenya was engulfed in ethnic violence that lasted for three weeks and killed at least 1,300 people.

The International Criminal Court's top prosecutor is proposing a three-tiered approach to try those responsible for the violence. The main instigators will stand trial in The Hague, the others will be tried by a special tribunal in Kenya. Finally, a truth and reconciliation commission will conduct a full investigation of the events.

Following the violence, the two opponents in the 2007 elections – Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga – agreed to form a national unity government after mediation by the former secretary-general of the UnitedNations, Kofi Annan.

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At the time, Annan put pressure on the candidates to bring those responsible for the violence to justice. Annan threatened to hand a sealed list with the names of the ten main suspects to Ocampa if Kenya failed to prosecute them itself.

In February the Kenyan parliament approved a bill setting up a special tribunal in Kenya. Annan turned the list over to Ocampo in July. It presumably contains the names of prominent members of government and businessmen.

Those in favour of prosecution say that justice has to be delivered swiftly to avoid more violence during the next elections in 2012.

Ocampo said Wednesday he will hold a final round of consultations with the Kenyan authorities in the coming weeks. It is uncertain when Ocampo will be issuing his first indictments, and the identity of those likely to be indicted is still unknown.

The ICC was founded in 2002 to try those cases that countries themselves are unable or unwilling to try. So far the court has brought cases pertaining to four African countries: Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and Sudan. The court is unpopular in Africa because it is perceived as acting only against Africans.

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