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Theft in Kenya May Be Tied to ICC Probe

Police in Kenyan capital, Nairobi, investigating robbery office of NGO working to bring perpetrators of 2008 post-election violence to justice

Police in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, are investigating a robbery at the office of a non-governmental organization that has been working with the International Criminal Court (ICC) to bring suspected perpetrators of the 2008 post-election violence to justice.

The director of the International Center for Policy and Conflict, Ndung'u Wainaina, tells VOA that thieves used a key to enter the office and conducted a thorough search before leaving with a desktop computer, a laptop, two monitors, and a file of documents.

Wainaina says the computers and file contained data and information his center has been compiling on the ethnic violence that nearly tore the country apart after the disputed December 2007 presidential vote. Cabinet members, senior politicians, and powerful businessmen accused of fueling that violence are now the subject of an International Criminal Court investigation in The Hague.

"We have been doing a lot of work around post-election violence, specifically working with victims, working on issues with the ICC, the Special Tribunal, and the Truth Commission," said Wainaina. "So, definitely, that must be the kind of information they were looking for. Even the first preliminary assessment of the police officers sent here was that this was not an ordinary break-in to an office."

Nearly 1,500 people were killed and hundreds of thousands displaced during several months of unrest in early 2008. The violence ended after the incumbent President Mwai Kibaki and challenger Raila Odinga agreed to form a power-sharing government and to establish commissions of inquiry to investigate.

One of those commissions, known as the Waki Commission, subsequently submitted names of possible suspects behind the bloodletting. When the new coalition government failed to act on its promise to bring the suspects to justice, the sealed list was handed over to the International Criminal Court for prosecution.

In January, the Court's Special Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told the Kenyan government to give protection to potential witnesses in the ICC investigation. He said he had received reports that people who may be called to testify were being threatened and intimidated.

Wainaina says his organization has also received anonymous threats for trying to give voice to victims of post-election violence and for criticizing government foot-dragging on promised reforms. But he says the robbery is the most serious act that has been perpetrated against it.

"We are determined to go on because we must see how people who are culpable for violating human rights are put into account," he added. "And justice for the victims of post-election violence is a priority for us. Nothing should deter us from pursuing that cause."

Kenya's Attorney General Amos Wako says he has instructed the police commissioner to conduct a thorough investigation of the robbery. Wako has been sharply criticized for failing to prosecute post-election violence suspects. He has also been banned from traveling to the United States for obstructing reforms aimed at ending government graft.