Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

4 Face Trials at Hague in Kenyan Election Riots

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

4 Face Trials at Hague in Kenyan Election Riots

Article excerpt

Two presidential aspirants are among those accused of being behind the waves of violence that followed the disputed elections in 2007 and brought Kenya close to civil war.

International judges ruled on Monday that four prominent Kenyans, two of them declared presidential candidates, must stand trial on allegations that they were behind the waves of violence that followed the disputed elections in 2007 and brought Kenya close to civil war.

The four include Uhuru Kenyatta, the finance minister and a leader of the Kikuyu, Kenya's dominant tribe. Also accused is his political rival, William Ruto, a former education minister with a large following in his Kalenjin tribe. Both have said they would run regardless of court decisions.

The planned trials, at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, for which no dates have been set, would reach deep inside the political elite of a country where the wealthy and powerful have long counted on being untouchable. Mr. Kenyatta is the richest man in Kenya and the son of Jomo Kenyatta, the nation's founding president.

The other two accused are Francis Muthaura, the cabinet secretary, and Joshua Arap Sang, an influential radio executive.

Even if proceedings are delayed, the order to send the four to trial is expected to have an immediate impact on Kenyan politics. At the very least it will cast a long shadow and complicate the presidential race. Elections are expected late this year or early in 2013.

Kenyan law does not ban a politician facing trial from competing in elections, according to the chairman of the Law Society of Kenya, Kenneth Akide. But the repeated humiliation of answering summonses to travel to The Hague, appearing in the dock, hearing grave charges and enduring the televised broadcasts of the proceedings is new territory for politicians in Kenya.

Since they were summoned to attend pretrial hearings in September, politicians from both camps have denounced the court as biased.

The four, all of whom are charged with crimes against humanity, will remain free until the trials start, but the presiding judge, Ekaterina Trendafilova, warned that they risked arrest if they engaged "in incitement of violence or hate speech. …

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