Africa will learn from Kenya – ICC

2010-05-08 12:30

Nairobi - Prosecutions over deadly post-vote violence in Kenya in 2009 would send a strong message ahead of a string of elections due in Africa, the International Criminal Court chief prosecutor said on Saturday.

"I think it's important to investigate these crimes to ensure that in Kenya in 2012 is a peaceful election," chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said in Nairobi, kicking off a five-day visit to meet survivors of the violence.

"I would say more - in the next year and a half, there are 15 elections in Africa... Kenya will send a signal to all these elections: if you commit crimes, you go to The Hague," he said.

The International Criminal Court, the world's only permanent independent war crimes court, is based in the Dutch city of The Hague.

In March it authorised an investigation of the Kenya violence which erupted after then opposition leader Raila Odinga's accused President Mwai Kibaki of rigging his re-election at December 27, 2007 polls.

The unrest claimed around 1 200 lives, injured at least 3 500 people and left about 350 000 more internally displaced.

The chief prosecutor said his visit was aimed at meeting victims.

"We will try to see the victims. We will not take statements during this visit. We will not see them as witnesses," he explained.

Ocampo reiterated that he expected to conclude the bulk of the investigation within six months and that he would only be presenting a limited number of cases.

"We will present few incidents so we don't need hundreds of witnesses. We will present a sample we hope is representative," he said.

"We will prosecute few people, the most responsible. I will not present cases against the direct perpetrators."

"We are collecting evidence but no-one is yet a suspect for us," he added.

Senior cabinet members are believed to be in the ICC's crosshairs and the probe comes at a time when Kenya's uneasy political coalition is taking steps to carry out key reforms, including a new constitution.