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ICC Prosecutor Promises Justice for Kenyans

  • Michael Onyiego

After concluding his first official visit to Kenya, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has assured Kenyans the sponsors of ethnic violence following a disputed 2007 election would be brought to justice.

Argentine lawyer Luis Moreno-Ocampo wrapped up a five-day tour of the Kenyan capital Wednesday, during which he visited victims of the violence that rocked Kenya in early 2008.

Moreno-Ocampo spoke with civil and religious groups, tribal groups, non-profit groups and lawmakers in affected areas as part of a preliminary inquiry into the violence.

The post-election clashes broke out between supporters of President Mwai Kibaki and backers of his then rival, Prime Minister Raila Odinga after a disputed presidential poll. The violence killed about 1,300 people and displaced more than 300,000 others.

He vowed to investigate what he has described as pre-planned, systematic attacks on specific ethnic groups after the disputed 2007 poll.

The prosecutor received commitments from President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga that Kenya would fully cooperate with his team and support his efforts.

In a press conference before he left for The Hague, Moreno-Ocampo pledged his investigation would bring long-awaited justice.

"I think we have a clear picture of the views and concerns of the people of Kenya. We like to confirm to them that there will be justice for the post election violence," he said. "We will conduct two investigations. We select the most serious incidents. We select those who are most responsible for those incidents and we present the case before the end of the year against six persons,"

The identity of Moreno-Ocampo's suspects has been the subject of intense speculation over the past weeks. He indicated that the list would be made public when he presents his case to the courts at the end of the year.

Previously, the prosecutor said a list of alleged perpetrators of violence included senior political and business leaders associated with Kenya's two main political parties.

There has been speculation in the national media about whether the list of suspects includes Kenya's president and prime minister.

But Moreno-Ocampo said he has the full support of the Kenyan government. He pointed to the history of international justice to ease Kenyans concerns that perpetrators will not be held accountable.

"I believe that charges by the ICC will end in court. I have no doubt. I saw in my country President Videla who had a lot of power when he took office and one day we prosecuted him in court," Ocampo said. "I saw General Pinochet who was arrested when he was in London. I saw President Milosevic who was arrested in his own country. I saw Charles Taylor arrested and in The Hague. We are living in a new world in which power is not allowing you to commit massive crimes."

Moreno-Ocampo took up the issue after stalled Kenyan attempts to look into the crimes. There have been reports of witness harassment and intimidation across the country, and Moreno-Ocampo has pledged to protect up to 60 witnesses in the case. But he said the Kenyan government is responsible for the protection of the rest.

The prosecutor will continue his investigation from The Hague where the court is based and plans to return to Kenya in October.