Thursday, March 04, 2010

Kenya: ICC Prosecutor names 20 most responsible for deadly post-election ethnic violence

Following a request for additional information from the International Criminal Court (ICC) earlier this month, its Prosecutor today named the 20 people he says are most responsible for the deadly post-election ethnic violence which swept Kenya in December 2007 and January 2008.

Last November, Luis Moreno-Ocampo sought authorization from the Court’s pre-trial chamber to open an investigation into the ethnic violence that erupted following the disputed polls in which President Mwai Kibaki of the Party of National Unity (PNU) was declared the winner over opposition leader Raila Odinga of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), now the Prime Minister.

Some 1,000 people were killed in the clashes, which forced over 300,000 others to flee their homes.

Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said today that senior political and business leaders associated with the two parties organized, enticed and/or financed attacks against civilians on account of their perceived ethnic and/or political affiliation pursuant to or on furtherance of a State and/or organization party.

“These senior leaders from both PNU and ODM parties were guided by political objectives to retain or gain power,” he noted.

“They utilized their personal, government, business and tribal network to commit the crimes,” Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said, adding that Government officials, Parliament members, the police and youth gangs were among those who helped them implement their policies.

The list of the 20 people who the Prosecutor, who met with both Mr. Kibaki and Mr. Odinga late last year, believes bear the gravest responsibility is sealed.

The names were identified after several inquiries were conducted, and former Secretary-General Kofi Annan submitted sealed materials about possible crimes to Mr. Moreno-Ocampo in early 2009.

“At this stage, the names are indicative only,” the Prosecutor stressed. “The allegations concerning the named individuals will have to be measured against the evidence gathered independently by my office.”

On 19 February, judges from the ICC’s pre-trial chamber asked him for extra information on the incidents likely to be the focus of an investigation, the groups of people likely to be scrutinized, and any investigations being carried out domestically with regard to potential cases.

They also requested clarification on the linkages between the events, people and acts of violence allegedly committed in Kenya on the one hand, and the policies of a State and organizations, on the other.

“If the Judges authorize the investigation, I will engage those who wish to clarify their role or to provide further information,” said Mr. Moreno-Ocampo, who reminded the pre-trial chamber today that none of the 20 people he named have faced justice in Kenya for the crimes.

Under the ICC’s complementarity principle, it can only intervene if there are no national proceedings against those responsible for the crimes.

The Prosecutor also appealed for an expedited decision on whether the ICC will proceed with an investigation, underscoring that both the victims and those defined as suspects need justice.

The Hague-based ICC is an independent, permanent court that investigates and prosecutes persons accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Currently, four situations are under investigation by the prosecutor: the Darfur region of Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Uganda and the Central African Republic (CAR).

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