Kenya politician asks ICC for reprieve

2010-12-10 11:44

Nairobi - A Kenyan politician suspected of orchestrating the violence that followed disputed elections in 2007 has filed an application asking the International Criminal Court (ICC) not to name him and other suspects, local media said.

In an application filed with the court and shared widely with local media, William Ruto's lawyers said he believed he would suffer "irreparable harm should the prosecutor decide to present a criminal case that includes his name before the ICC judges".

Months of ethnic clashes killed more than 1 300 people and displaced hundreds of thousands after the December 2007 elections, which then-opposition leader Raila Odinga, now prime minister, accused President Mwai Kibaki of stealing.

ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo has said he will next week file two cases naming six Kenyans accused of directing the bloodshed. The case is seen by many as a key step in avoiding more violence when the East African nation goes to the polls in 2012.

Ruto, who last month travelled to The Hague in an attempt to clear his name, accused Moreno-Ocampo of failing to conduct his own "independent, fair and impartial investigations as required by the law," and instead relying upon evidence provided by other parties.

Concerns about violence

While the court was only authorised to operate in Kenya in September this year, Moreno-Ocampo contacted Ruto in April asking him about the post-election violence, Ruto's lawyers argue.

The former minister, who has been suspended to allow investigations into an alleged corrupt land deal, also said Moreno-Ocampo was not probing leads that would exonerate him - in particular reports the Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) paid witnesses to implicate him.

A KNCHR report named Ruto and Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta as key figures who orchestrated the violence.

There are concerns violence could break out when the names of the suspects are revealed, as supporters from their tribes take to the streets in protest.

However, polls show the ICC investigation - which began after Kenya failed to set up a local tribunal to probe the violence - is widely backed by the public.