Kenyans back ICC trials

2010-09-22 13:19

Nairobi - More than half of Kenyans want the masterminds of violence which followed disputed elections in 2007 tried at the International Criminal Court (ICC) despite planned judicial reforms at home, an opinion poll showed.

The Synovate poll was published after Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo said trials at the Hague-based ICC were unnecessary as the cases could be heard in Kenya.

About 1 300 people were killed and more than 300 000 displaced by the violence in late 2007 and early 2008 which also badly hurt the region's largest economy.

The prospect of ICC trials has struck fear into Kenya's political class, as the state-funded Kenya National Commission on Human Rights has named several senior cabinet minsters and prominent businessmen as architects of the violence.

Political commentators said Kilonzo might have been gauging public reaction with his comments published in a newspaper on Sunday. Some cabinet colleagues rejected his remarks, arguing that the coalition government was committed to the ICC process.

"Fifty-four percent still prefer The Hague for prosecution of the perpetrators of the post-election violence," pollster Synovate said when releasing the results on Tuesday.

Power sharing deal

"This is more than twice of those who think that the perpetrators of Post Election Violence should be forgiven (22%) or tried locally (22%)."

Attempts to form a Kenyan tribunal to try the suspects were defeated in parliament last year, despite public support from President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga - the two leading candidates in the 2007 elections.

A power sharing deal brokered by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan stopped the bloodshed and created Kenya's first coalition government.

Kilonzo said Kenya's new basic law was set to overhaul the judiciary which critics say is bureaucratic and prone to corruption.

The ICC is a court of last resort, taking on cases which cannot be tried by domestic courts or when national proceedings are not genuine. The ICC's Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo expects to charge up to six suspects by the end of this year.

The poll surveyed 1 501 adults nationwide last week, Synovate said.