‘Trial set’ for Kenyans over 2007 violence

Two of “Ocampo Four” accused of masterminding post-election violence are likely to stand trial at the ICC in March 2013.

Inside Story: Will the ICC ruling affect Kenya''s politics?
March 2013 trial date was tentatively agreed upon for William Ruto, left, and Joshua Arap Sang, right [EPA]

Two of the men accused of masterminding post-election violence in Kenya in 2007 will likely stand trial next March at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague, prosecutors and lawyers have said.

The March 2013 trial date for former minister William Ruto, 45, and radio boss Joshua Arap Sang, 36, was tentatively agreed upon during a hearing on Monday at the ICC.

“Both the defence teams have submitted March 2013 for the start of the trial date,” said Florence Darques-Lane for the prosecution at a hearing before the court.

“The prosecution has no objection to setting a trial date at such time,” Darques-Lane said.

Ruto’s lawyer David Hooper added: “We concur with March of next year.”

Judge Kuniko Ozaki said a ruling on the trial date will be made before the start of the court’s summer recess on July 14.

The two men are part of the so-called “Ocampo Four”, which also includes current deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, and Francis Muthaura, the former head of the public service.

The four will be tried for crimes against humanity for organising attacks on ruling party supporters after disputed polls five years ago.

On Tuesday, The Hague-based court is to discuss a trial date for Muthaura and Kenyatta.

Although the ICC trial is likely to commence, Ruto and Kenyatta have both announced their plans to run for president in Kenya in elections scheduled for March 4, 2013.

Presidential candidates

“Campaigning has already started [in Kenya], a lot of people thrown their name into the hat wanting to be president of the country including William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta who are already heading out on the campaign trail,” Al Jazeera’s Nazanine Moshiri reported from the Kenyan capital Nairobi on Monday.

“If the trial takes place in March that won’t affect their campaigning. But there are a lot of questions over whether presidential candidates who are appearing at the ICC should be allowed to stand for election in this country. If it goes to a second round in March, then they won’t be able to campaign for the second round because they have to be at the ICC on a daily basis facing trial,” she said.

Ruto and Sang face three counts of murder, forcible transfer and persecution relating to attacks by members of the opposition Orange Democratic Movement against ruling Party of National Unity supporters.

Kenyatta, who is one of the country’s richest men and the son of its founding president, Jomo Kenyatta, stands accused of murder, forcible deportations, persecution, rape and other inhumane acts against supporters of
Prime Minister Raila Odinga after the election. All four men say they are innocent.

“This has been a long process to get to this point with [ICC chief prosecutor] Luis Moreno-Ocampo basically bringing various people he believes were involved in this to this point of trial,” our correspondent said.

Violence shattered Kenya’s image as a regional beacon of stability when then opposition chief Raila Odinga accused President Mwai Kibaki of rigging his way to re-election following the December 2007 polls.

What began as political riots, quickly turned into ethnic killings of Kenyatta’s Kikuyu tribe, who in return launched reprisal attacks, plunging Kenya into its worst wave of violence since independence in 1963.

More than 1,200 people died during the violence.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies