15.12.10 - ICC/KENYA - ICC PROSECUTOR SEEKING TO INDICT SIX HIGH PROFILE KENYANS

The Hague, December 15, 2010 (FH) - The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno Ocampo,  issued on Wednesday six summonses to appear against high profile Kenyans including three ministers of the current government.
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These personalities might be indicted later for crimes against humanity in what the prosecutor calls an orchestrated campaign to displace, torture, persecute and kill civilians during Kenya's election crisis in 2007 and early 2008. Over 1,100 people had been killed and 600,000 displaced.

Two separate trials might be organized. The first would target three officials of the then government: Uhuru Kenyatta, finance minister and son of Kenya's founding leader, Jomo Kenyatta; General Hussein Ali, the former police chief, and Francis Muthaura, President of the National security Committee.

The second trial would involve leaders of the main opposition party, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) : Education Minister William Ruto currently suspended because of corruption accusations; minister for Industrialization Henry Kosgey, and local radio executive Joshua Arap Sang. According to the prosecution, the three men planned the post-election violence in the Rift Valley.

In a statement released on Wednesday just before a press conference at the ICC, Luis Moreno Ocampo was very clear about his intentions:  "If the suspects do not comply with the conditions set by the Chamber, I will request arrest warrants.  If there is any indication of bribes, intimidation or threats, I will request arrest warrants. I expect the suspects to indicate to the Chamber shortly their intention to surrender voluntarily".

If they do so, the six men will remain free until their trials start, in several months.

The case was opened in March 2010. This was the first time that Luis Moreno-Ocampo has stepped in on his own initiative, without a request from the home country or by the United Nations Security Council. He took this decision after Kenyan authorities failed to set up a special tribunal to prosecute the killings.

According to BBC East Africa correspondent, in recent days there has been a degree of panic among some members of the usually untouchable political elite. He adds that most Kenyans feel these prosecutions are vital in order to undermine the deeply rooted culture of impunity.

President Mwai Kibaki announced on Monday the government would launch its own investigation - a move his critics have denounced as an attempt to prevent suspects being sent to The Hague.

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