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Former Kenyan Minister Travels to Hague to Give Statement on Election Violence

  • Michael Onyiego

In the midst of corruption trials at home, suspended Kenyan Higher Education Minister William Ruto is in The Hague to clear his name in an investigation into the country's post-election chaos.

Before leaving Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, suspended Higher Education Minister William Ruto said he was traveling to The Hague to meet with International Criminal Court Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo.

Ruto said he requested the meeting with the prosecutor after his name had appeared in reports and witness statements surrounding the violence that engulfed Kenya after the 2007 election.

Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo had sent letters to 10 prominent Kenyan figures requesting similar statements and said one prominent Kenyan had replied, offering to turn himself in if charged by the court.

According to Kenya's Daily Nation, Ruto revealed himself to be the author of the letter promising cooperation.

Law Society of Kenya secretary Apollo Mboya says Ruto's visit to The Hague sets a positive example of cooperation with the international court.

"Going for him is an appropriate move," Mboya said. "I think it is a good move that shows that, first of all, that he is willing to cooperate in the investigation. We would want to see all other people who received similar letters taking the opportunity to go and engage with the ICC."

The ICC is investigating violence that killed more than 1,000 people after President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga accused each other of fraud during the December 2007 presidential election.

Many large clashes broke out in Kenya's Rift Valley, where Ruto is a dominant political force and leader of the region's Kalenjin ethnic group.

Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo has promised to call for two trials with three suspects each when he presents his case to the court in December. While other suspects have not been revealed, he says the case will involve prominent businessmen and politicians who helped plan and finance the violence.

Ruto's political career hangs in the balance as his legal troubles threaten to damage his public image and land him in prison.

Seen as a frontrunner in the 2012 presidential race, the former minister was stripped of his duties just weeks ago by President Mwai Kibaki, after being ordered to stand trial in a fraud case surrounding the sale of public land. Ruto is alleged to have received more than $1 million during the course of the illegal transaction.