Friday, April 08, 2011

War Crimes: International Criminal Court judge warns Kenyan suspects on incitement

International Criminal Court (ICC) Judge Ekaterina Trendafilova

UN - A judge at the International Criminal Court (ICC) today warned suspects accused of being involved in post-election violence in Kenya three years ago that arrest warrants could be issued against them if they instigated further unrest through inflammatory speech.

Three of six suspects – William Samoei Ruto, Henry Kiprono Kosgey and Joshua arap Sang – appeared before the ICC pre-trial chamber in The Hague for the purposes of verifying their identities and to be clearly informed of the crimes which they are alleged to have committed and of their rights under the Rome Statute that established the ICC.

“It came to the knowledge of the chamber by way of following some articles in the Kenyan newspapers that there are some movements towards retriggering the violence in the country by way of using some dangerous speeches,” said Judge Ekaterina Trendafilova, the presiding judge at today’s hearing.

“I would like to remind the suspects – and I’m not referring to anyone in particular but this is a general point to be made to all the suspects – that such type of action could be perceived as a sort of inducement which may constitute the breach of one of the conditions set out in the summonses to appear, namely, to continue committing crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court,” she said.

“Accordingly, this might prompt the chamber to replace the summonses to appear with warrants of arrest […],” Judge Trendafilova added.

The pre-trial chamber set 1 September as the day when the ICC will begin the confirmation of charges hearing.

A confirmation of charges hearing is held to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to establish substantial grounds to believe that each suspect committed each of the crimes they are charged with. If the charges are confirmed, the pre-trial chamber commits the suspect to trial before a trial chamber.

Mr. Ruto served as Kenya’s Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, but is currently suspended from the position, while Mr. Kosgey was Minister of Industrialization and is also suspended. Mr. Sang is a radio presenter.

The other three suspects are Francis Kirimi Muthaura, Head of the Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet; Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance; and Mohamed Hussein Ali, who was Police Commissioner at the time of the violence.

More than 1,100 people were killed, 3,500 injured and up to 600,000 forcibly displaced in the violence that followed the December 2007 elections. There were also hundreds of rapes, possibly more, and at least 100,000 properties were destroyed in six of Kenya’s eight provinces, according to ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo.