Netherlands— The International Criminal Court’s prosecutor named a former Kenyan Cabinet minister and five others on Wednesday as the alleged orchestrators of postelection violence in 2007 that left more than 1,000 people dead.
Luis Moreno Ocampo wants judges to charge six Kenyan leaders, including the son of the country’s founding father, with crimes against humanity including murder, rape and tortue. But it is the case against former higher education minister William Ruto that could cause the most violent backlash in Kenya.
Kenya’s police commissioner, Mathew K. Iteere warned that “criminal elements” were looking to use Moreno-Ocampo’s announcement as an opportunity break the law and vowed to crack down on any outbreaks of violence.
Moreno-Ocampo alleged that Ruto began plotting attacks on supporters of President Mwai Kibaki a year before the election and worked together with Minister for Industrialization, Henry Kosgey and radio broadcaster Joshua Sang to coordinate a campaign of killing and forced deportations in the Rift Valley.
In a separate case, Moreno-Ocampo charged Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta — son of Kenyan independence hero and founding president Jomo Kenyatta — alongside Cabinet secretary Francis Muthaura and former police commissioner Maj. Gen. Mohammed Hussein Ali with murder, deportation, persecution, rape and inhumane acts allegedly committed in retaliation against supporters of Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
Deadly clashes erupted after Kenya’s disputed 2007 presidential election, including indiscriminate bow and arrow, machete and gunfire attacks that killed more than 1,000.
“These six are the persons most responsible according to our evidence,” Moreno Ocampo told reporters in The Hague. He asked judges to confirm the charges and order the six suspects to turn themselves in to the war crimes tribunal.
Judges will study the prosecutor’s evidence and likely make their decision early next year.
In Kenya, President Mwai Kibaki said the government had intensified security around the country to protect lives and property of all citizens. Kibaki also said the government is committed to establishign a local tribunal to deal with post-election violence, an idea that has resurfaced only this week as the Moreno Ocampo announcement lommed.
“As a nation we must also focus on the need for national healing and reconciliation. This is paramount as we move forward on the path of national peace and unity,” the Kibaki statement said. “I appeal to Kenyans to remain calm. The government will remain vigilant and ensure that the rights of its citizens and the dignity of the nation are upheld.”
Moreno Ocampo said he expects the suspects to surrender voluntarily. He also asked them to not contact each other, to not try to interfere with the investigation or trial, or commit new crimes.
The clashes erupted along tribal lines following an announcement that Kibaki — a Kikuyu — had won a vote that opponents said was rigged. A bloodbath was stopped only after former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan mediated a peace agreement that created a coalition government in which Odinga was appointed prime minister.
Kenya attempted to set up a tribunal but parliament shut it down and no major figure has ever faced justice. The ICC took over the case after the failure to prosecute suspects in Kenya.
The clashes severely damaged Kenya’s reputation. The East African country has the region’s largest economy and has long been regarded as a haven of stability in a region roiled by war.
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