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
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
"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