Key Kenya figures appear at ICC over post-poll violence

Man jumps on a burnt vehicle in Nairobi, Kenya, on 16/1/2008, during unrest that followed the disputed 2007 electionThe violence brought Kenya to the brink of civil war

BBC:Three prominent Kenyans accused over post-election violence in 2007 have appeared at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.Two ex-ministers and a radio executive, who at the time supported current Prime Minister Raila Odinga, face charges of crimes against humanity.

Three others who backed President Mwai Kibaki – including the deputy prime minister – are due to appear on Friday.

More than 1,000 people were killed in the violence in Kenya in 2007 and 2008.

Some 500,000 people were driven from their homes.

The violence broke out after supporters of President Mwai Kibaki were accused of trying to rig the presidential election.

It ended when Mr Kibaki and his rival Raila Odinga agreed to share power, with Mr Odinga becoming prime minister.

Kenya had asked the ICC for a deferral, and says it is now able to investigate and prosecute these cases itself.

Peace dealFormer Higher Education Minister William Ruto, former Minister for Industrialisation Henry Kosgey and radio executive Joshua Arap Sang appeared in court for the preliminary hearing to face charges that include of murder, deportation, persecutions and torture.

On Friday, Uhuru Kenyatta – deputy PM and son of founding President Jomo Kenyatta – is set to appear at the ICC along with secretary to the cabinet Francis Kirimi Muthaura and former police chief Mohammed Hussein Ali to face charges of murder, deportation, persecutions and rape.

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Ocampo’s list

Supporters of President Mwai Kibaki

  • Uhuru Kenyatta – deputy prime minister and finance minister and son of Kenya’s founding president
  • Francis Muthaura – head of civil service and cabinet secretary
  • Hussein Ali – police chief during the violence

Supporters of Prime Minster Raila Odinga

  • William Ruto – former minister of higher education. Member of the Kalenjin community
  • Henry Kosgey – former minister of industrialisation – chairman of Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement
  • Joshua arap Sang – reporter and executive of radio station, Kass FM

All six have denied any involvement in the violence and say they are ready to face justice.

Dozens of Kenyan MPs are expected to be in The Hague to provide moral support for the six accused, the BBC’s world affairs correspondent Peter Biles says.

The ICC alleges that a criminal plan was put in place in the Rift Valley for supporters of President Kibaki to be attacked after the election.

ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo has said that in retaliation, police were given the green light to use excessive force and a vigilante group was organised to attack civilians.

The violence brought the country to the brink of civil war, with long-standing ethnic and economic rivalries ignited by political divisions.

One of the worst incidents saw a church where about 100 people had sought sanctuary set on fire, killing dozens inside.

The violence ended after former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan brokered a peace deal between the two presidential rivals. As part of the deal, it was agreed that perpetrators would face justice in Kenya or at the ICC in The Hague.

The organisation Human Rights Watch says this appearance of the six Kenyans in The Hague is an important test of their co-operation with the ICC.

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