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October 26, 2012

ICC Official Meets Victims of '08 Kenya Violence

by Gabe Joselow

International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda wrapped up her five-day trip to Kenya Friday after visiting with victims of Kenya’s 2008 post-election violence.
 
Bensouda began her trip with a visit to Kiambaa church in Eldoret, where on New Year’s Day in 2008 some 30 people were burned alive by arsonists in one of the most gruesome incidents to follow the country's disputed presidential election.
 
According to the United Nations, more than 1,100 people were killed and more than 600,000 were displaced by the violence.
 
Her trip is aimed at clarifying The Hague mandate and gleaning additional information to prosecute four high-profile Kenyans accused of crimes related to the violence, two of whom are presidential candidates — Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and member of parliament William Ruto.
 
During meetings in Eldoret, many victims complained to Bensouda that the former prosecutor, Luis-Moreno Ocampo, never visited them and that their accounts were never heard.
 
While Bensouda explained the ICC's role, she also said that international court can only do so much.
 
“We cannot address all of the crimes, so what we have been trying to do is to get something that will represent the criminality of all the crimes that took place,” she said.
 
Throughout the week, Bensouda made it clear in various meetings with Nairobi officials that the ICC would not be influenced by politics and that the trial will go on even if one of those indicted were to become president.
 
"That is why the responsibility still remains with the government of Kenya to try to address the crimes committed by others who are not the ICC indictees," she said, calling on the nation's court system to press charges of its own against others accused in the violence.
 
The ICC trial at The Hague is slated to begin in April next year, just a month after Kenya’s presidential election.