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Moreno-Ocampo investigating in Kenya

by Claudia Isabel Rittel
Who is responsible for the end of 2007 post election violence in Kenya? The International Criminal Court will now start investigating.

The judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague have permitted Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo to investigate in Kenya. The ICC stated that crimes against humanity may have been committed in the East African country.

In the aftermath of the December 2007 elections, there were violent outbursts between the oppositional parties of President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga. About 1,500 people lost their lives, many were injured and several hundred thousands fled their homes. The unrest had ethnic dimensions as Kibaki belongs to the ethnic group of the Kikuyu, while Odinga is a Luo. After long-winded negotiations, Kibaki and Odinga formed the coalition government that is running the country today.

In the next few days, Moreno-Ocampo will travel to Kenya and start his investigations and examine acts of violence. ­According to the ICC rules, he may trace events back to Kenya’s entry into the Rome Statute in 2005. The main focus of the investigations will probably be on the two post-election months in 2008. Moreno-Ocampo told journalists in The Hague that he wanted to focus on those res­ponsible for the violence. A list of 20 suspects already exists, yet according to him, it is not binding. It is Moreno-Ocampo’s aim to prosecute one to three individuals. He stressed that the information for possible charges would be collected impartially.

One of the three ICC judges opposed the investigation, claiming there was no evidence of violence being organised or backed by a particular party or governmental organisation. The judge argued that this is a prerequisite to classify acts of violence as crimes against humanity. The ICC is authorised to act in three kinds of cases: crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes.

In the meantime, Bangladesh has become the 111th country to ratify the Rome Statute. In June, the statute will come into effect in the South Asian country.

Anyone interested in the ICC cases can now follow them up in English and French on the internet. The organisation posts video footages of the hearings and analytical reports of ongoing cases on youtube. (cir)