Kenyan deputy premier arrives at ICC
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Last Updated: Friday, April 08, 2011, 21:22
The Hague: Kenyan Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and two co-defendants appeared before the International Criminal Court on Friday, to face charges of crimes against humanity during deadly post-election violence.

"I welcome you to this hearing," Ekaterina Trendafilova, president of The Hague-based court, told the Kenyan trio.

Kenyatta, son of Kenya's finding father Jomo Kenyatta, is the highest ranking Kenyan official targeted by the ICC in connection with the violence in the months following President Mwai Kibaki's contested re-election in December 2007 that left some 1,200 dead.

The Kenyan deputy premier made no comment when he arrived by car at the court headquarters earlier today, preceded by co-accused Francis Muthaura, Kibaki's right-hand man, and former police chief Mohammed Hussein Ali.

They were summoned to appear before a pre-trial chamber to be informed of the charges levelled against them.

Yesterday, Kenya's former higher education minister William Ruto, former industry minister Henry Kosgey and radio presenter Joshua Arap Sang appeared in the same court.

Charges against the six include murder, deportation, rape, inhumane acts, persecution and torture.

Kenyatta, Muthaura and Ali are linked to Kibaki, while Ruto, Kosgey and Sang are supporters of the president's rival, Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

"An innocent person like me, to be dragged all the way here, is a matter that puzzles me," Ruto, a potential candidate in next year's presidential election, told the court yesterday.

"There's no reason for us to be here, we're innocent people. There's no court that tries innocent people," he told reporters after the hearing, before belting out his country's national anthem along with some 30 Kenyan lawmakers who came here to back him.

A procedural hearing, which the accused are not required to attend, was set for April 18 while another to confirm the charges was set for September 1.

Issuing summonses for the men in March, the ICC said there were reasonable grounds to believe that the Kenyatta group was responsible for attacks against supporters of Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (OMD) with a view to keeping Kibaki's Party for National Unity (PNU) in power.

The group of Ruto, Kosgey and Sang, on the other hand, were believed to have been part of a plan "targeting members of the civilian population supporting the PNU, in order to punish them and evict them from the Rift Valley with the ultimate goal of gaining power and creating a uniform ODM voting block."


First Published: Friday, April 08, 2011, 21:22

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