Judges of the ICC must decide whether, on the basis of preliminary evidence, there are "substantial grounds" to go ahead with a trial. The judges may also decide to dismiss charges against one or more of the accused, or ask the prosecutor to provide additional information.
The suspects include Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, former Police Commissioner Hussein Ali and Cabinet Secretary Francis Muthaura, who are charged together. They are considered close to the Party of National Unity of President Mwai Kibaki, who was re-elected in the disputed 2007 presidential elections. The other case involves members of parliament Henry Kosgey and William Ruto, along with radio journalist Joshua Arap Sang. They are all considered close to the Orange Democratic Movement of current Prime Minister Raila Odinga. It was the announcement that ODM had lost the elections that sparked the 2007-2008 violence, which left more than one thousand people dead and many more displaced.
All six of the accused appeared voluntarily at ICC confirmation of charges hearings in The Hague in September/ October 2011.
The judges' decision could have an impact on the next presidential elections in 2013, especially since both Kenyatta and Ruto are candidates. "The ruling is anxiously awaited and it could mark a turning point in the direction of the Kibaki succession," according to Kenyan daily newspaper The Standard.
On Tuesday, Kenyatta said his campaign to succeed Kibaki was not hinged on the ICC decision, according to The Nation newspaper. "My campaign is not anchored on the ICC process, but on an agenda that I have for the country," he is quoted as saying in Nairobi. Separately, Ruto said he was confident that his latest political vehicle, the United Republican Party (URP) would form the next government. "We are going to mobilise support from every part of the country and make sure we are in the next government. The ICC ruling will not distract my course to change the living standards of Kenyans," he said.
If the judges confirm the charges against Kenyatta and Ruto, they will not make any decision about whether the two can run for election. They could, however, order them to be arrested at any point and transferred to the ICC prison in The Hague. During the confirmation of charges hearings in September and October 2011, pre-trial judges warned the accused that they risked being arrested if they tried to obstruct the course of justice by, for example, intimidating witnesses.
© Hirondelle News Agency