The Hague, September 21, 2011 (FH) - Kenya's Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Cabinet Secretary Francis Muthaura and Postmaster General Mohammed Hussein Ali were all in court Wednesday afternoon as their confirmation of charges hearings got under way before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.  The three suspects entered the courtroom surrounded by a bevy of lawyers, as their families sat in the public gallery.

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The three are hoping to convince the judges that prosecution allegations against them are too shaky to authorize a trial for crimes against humanity committed during 2007-2008 electoral violence. Muthaura's lawyer Karim Khan was the first to take the floor to challenge the admissibility of the proceedings, saying the prosecutor had not disclosed certain documents to him. "They may be exculpatory," he told the court. "Is it an inconvenient truth, an oversight? Whatever the reason, it is not good enough. It cannot be right there was evidence in the hands of the prosecutor and it was not disclosed."

Before the hearing, ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo said he will present evidence that Kenyatta, Muthaura and Ali "organised and planned attacks on innocent civilians in Kenya. The judges will decide if the evidence is enough to start a trial". Ocampo also said he thought it was important that the suspects were in The Hague "so that they can exercise their rights to present their views".

In the coming days, the prosecutor will outline his case and present his evidence. The defence then has the right to challenge this evidence and hear witnesses. The suspects will make statements as well. Kenyatta, the most high profile of six Kenyans accused by the prosecutor, is expected to be the only one to take the stand directly, in a move analysts say could be risky because he is likely to be questioned by the court.

The hearings are scheduled to run from September 21 to October 5 and a decision on whether their cases will go to trial is expected just before Christmas.


© Hirondelle News Agency