ICC Charges Four Prominent Kenyans in Post-Election Violence

Posted January 23rd, 2012 at 6:40 pm (UTC-5)
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The International Criminal Court at the Hague ruled Monday that four prominent Kenyans, including two who are likely to seek the presidency, must stand trial for crimes related to the deadly violence that followed the disputed 2007 presidential election.

Among those facing trial is Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, who is the son of Kenya's founding president and the country's richest citizen. Also charged with crimes against humanity are former education minister William Ruto, civil service chief Francis Muthaura, and radio broadcaster Joshua Arap Sang.

Ruto said he found the charges “strange,” and said he plans to run for president. Kenyatta also said he will stand for president in an election due to be held by March of next year. Both men proclaimed their innocence.

The ethnic violence that exploded after the election four years ago left at least 1,200 people dead and another 300,000 displaced. The charges against the four include murder, persecution and the forcible transfer of a population.

No date for the trials has been set.

Following announcement of the ICC's decision, Kenya's current president, Mwai Kibaki, appealed for calm. He said the nation “has had its share of challenging times” and he expressed the hope there will be no return to violence.

In announcing the decision at the Hague on Monday, ICC Judge Ekaterina Trendafilova said the court hopes that its actions will bring peace to Kenya.

“As a result of the decisions issued today, Mr. Ruto, Mr. Sang, Mr. Muthaura and Mr. Kenyatta are committed to trial. They will be tried before a different chamber for the charges confirmed. To this end one or more trial chambers will be established by the presidency of the International Criminal Court.”

Charges were dropped against two other Kenyan officials, former police chief Mohammed Hussein Ali and former industrialization minister Henry Kosgey. In both cases, ICC judges cited a lack of evidence to support accusations made by prosecutors.