The Hague, September 20, 2011 (FH) - Kenya's Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta is one of three top officials who will try to fend off accusations of involvement in 2007-2008 killings in confirmation of charges hearings due to start Wednesday afternoon before the International Criminal Court. Kenyatta, who is also Finance Minister and son of Kenya's first president, is accused along with Public Service Head Francis Muthaura and Postal Corporation CEO Mohammed Hussein Ali. They are all supporters of the Party of National Unity (PNU), the party of Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki. Their confirmation of charges hearings are scheduled to run from September 21 to October 5.

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All three have been charged with crimes against humanity committed during the 2007-2008 post-election violence in Kenya, which left more than 1,000 people dead and hundreds of thousands displaced. The charges against them involve murder, forcible transfer, rape, persecution, and other inhumane acts.

The results of the December 2007 presidential elections were highly contested. Political rivalry between supporters of PNU and the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) of current Prime Minister Raila Odinga quickly turned into ethnic violence and killings.

According to the prosecution, Muthaura "authorized police to use excessive force against civilians, shooting and killing more than a hundred people they identified as supporters of the ODM party", while Kenyatta is accused of organizing the Mungiki militia to attack other groups.

Confirmation of charges hearings took place earlier this month in a case involving three other Kenyan suspects considered close to the ODM. Former Higher Education Minister William Ruto, former Minister for Industrialization Henry Kosgey and radio executive Joshua arap Sang are also charged for their role in the post-election violence. Their confirmation of charges hearings took place from September 1 to September 8.

Since Kenya itself failed to deal with the perpetrators of the violence, Ocampo asked the President of the Court if he could start his own investigation in November 2009. In March 2010 this request was granted. In April 2011, the so-called Ocampo Six all came to The Hague voluntarily to attend an initial appearance hearing.

In the confirmation of charges hearings, Pre-Trial Chamber II will determine if there is enough evidence to go ahead with a trial. After the hearings, the Judges will have sixty days to deliberate and may choose to confirm all of the charges, or to decline some or all of the charges.


© Hirondelle News Agency