Kenyan VP 'orchestrated ethnic killings', ICC told

2013-09-11 07:48
Kenyan Vice President William Ruto. (AFP)

Kenyan Vice President William Ruto. (AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

The Hague - Kenyan Vice President William Ruto orchestrated a campaign of ethnic killings "to satisfy his thirst for power" after disputed 2007 elections, prosecutors said on Tuesday at the start of his trial at the International Criminal Court.

Ruto, 46, and co-accused Kenyan radio boss Joshua arap Sang, 38, pleaded not guilty to charges of stoking the worst violence in the east African country since independence in 1963.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Ruto's former political foe turned ally, goes on trial at the ICC on 12 November. He also proclaims his innocence.

The start of the high-stakes case, with the ICC's reputation on the line particularly in Africa, was largely devoted to Ruto's defence, with his lawyer Karim Khan dramatically asking prosecutors to drop the charges.

Ruto, dressed in a dark grey suit, earlier gave a bemused smile as the ICC's chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda opened her case, while Sang, wearing a light grey suit, shook his head and occasionally smiled.

"Mr Ruto, as a powerful politician", planned the crimes "to satisfy his thirst for political power," Bensouda told the court.

"It is difficult to imagine the suffering or terror experienced by the men, women and children who were burnt alive, hacked to death or chased from their homes," Bensouda added.

"He [Ruto] gathered together and army of... youths to go to war for him in the event the election was lost," Bensouda said.

Increased pressure

"When the election was lost, he gave the order to attack."

Ruto came to court voluntarily from Nairobi to face three charges of crimes against humanity for allegedly orchestrating the violence in Kenya, a bastion of stability in east Africa.

At least 30 Kenyan MPs and other supporters welcomed the two accused as they arrived for the trial that has been painted as political by critics in Kenya.

The ICC has come under increased pressure globally, especially from the 54-nation African Union, which has accused the court of targeting the continent on the basis of race.

Lawmakers in Kenya last week became the first in the world to approve moves to withdraw recognition of the 10-year-old court that so far has only one conviction under its belt.

Any move by Kenya to leave the ICC's Rome Statute will have no effect on the current trials, but observers fear it may spark an exodus of African member states from the treaty, noting that all current cases stem from conflicts on the continent.

Ruto and Sang each face three counts of murder, deportation and persecution after a wave of violence swept Kenya in 2007-08, leaving at least 1 100 dead and more than 600 000 homeless.

The violence, which laid bare simmering ethnic tensions, was mainly directed at members of Kenya's largest Kikuyu tribe, who were perceived as supporters of then president Mwai Kibaki's Party of National Unity (PNU).

Initial attacks quickly led to reprisals, with homes torched and more people hacked to death.

The two trials are expected to be staggered, set for four weeks at a time, so that Ruto and Kenyatta are not away from Kenya at the same time.

Witness intimidation

The cases have been mired in accusations of witness intimidation, allegations dismissed by the defence even though several witnesses pulled out.

Ruto's defence lawyer Khan on Tuesday sought to punch holes in the prosecution's case, charging that the probe, initiated by the ICC's previous chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, was based on lies and deception.

"The rotten underbelly of the prosecution's case has been exposed," Khan told judges, showing the court several videos in which Ruto is portrayed as pleading for peace after the December 2007 election.

In one video, when asked about having to come to The Hague, Ruto said: "I have done nothing wrong. My conscience is clear."

More than 300 victims of the violence have been authorised to participate in the proceedings against Ruto and Sang.

There is concern in Kenya that the trials could reopen old wounds and undo reconciliation efforts by communities who once fought each other in deadly battles.

Sang's defence is to launch its case on Thursday, while the first prosecution witness is expected to start testimony next Tuesday.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Men.24 Model of the Week: Wendy from Cape Town

Find out more about our featured model, Wendy from Cape Town


You won't want to miss...

Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
WATCH: Pornhub is giving users free access to premium content these holidays
5 top leg exercises for men
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.