, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 23 -NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 23 – Two leading Kenyan presidential candidates are among four suspects whose charges were confirmed on Monday by the International Criminal Court over deadly violence following disputed 2007 presidential polls.
The two include Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Eldoret North MP William Ruto.
ICC presiding judge Ekaterina Trendafilova said the Pre-Trial Chamber II by a majority decision, also confirmed charges against Head of the Civil Service Ambassador Francis Muthaura and Kass FM Radio Presenter Joshua arap Sang.
“After having thoroughly examined all the evidence presented by the prosecution, the chamber decided to confirm the charges against four of the six suspects,” Trendafilova said in a ruling televised from Courtroom I of the ICC in The Hague.
“The chamber found that there are substantial grounds to believe Mr Ruto is responsible as an indirect perpetrator of the crimes,” she said at the public presentation.
Both Ruto and Kenyatta are seen as leading challengers to Prime Minister Raila Odinga in the next presidential election, which is due to be held by March 2013 at the latest.
Read the full ruling here.
“With respect to the criminal responsibility of Mr Muthaura and Mr Kenyatta, the chamber was satisfied that the evidence also established substantial grounds to believe that they are criminally responsible for the alleged crimes, as indirect co-perpetrators, pursuant to article 25(3) (a) of the Rome Statute, having gained control over the Mungiki and directed them to commit the crimes,” the judge said.
On Ruto and Sang, the judges said Prosecutor Luis Moreno had satisfied the chamber that they indeed were indirect co-perpetrators of the crimes they were charged with: “As to the criminal responsibility of Mr Ruto and Mr Sang, the chamber found, on the basis of the evidence presented, that they are responsible for the charges levied against them.”
In particular, the judge said: “Pre-Trial Chamber II confirmed the charges against Mr Ruto as an indirect co- perpetrator with others, pursuant to article 25(3)(a) of the Rome Statute, while it found that Mr Sang contributed to the commission of said crimes against humanity, pursuant to article 25(3)(d)(i), to the extent specified in the written decision.”
Ruto immediately dismissed the charges and vowed they remain ‘strange’ to him.
“Allegations against me will forever be strange to me. My legal team will move expeditiously to analyse the ruling and the actions to take,” Ruto told reporters at a press conference at his Karen home shortly after the ruling was announced.
He said the ruling made on Monday would not affect his presidential ambitions “at all.”
“Despite the charges confirmed against him, Ruto said: “I am firmly still in the presidential race, the charges confirmed against me will not affect it,” Ruto said.
Co-accused radio man Sang who was also at Ruto’s home vowed to appeal against the ruling.
“It has come as a big disappointment for me because it means now that I will have to spend more time proving my innocence… I did not expect this kind of a decision. I am disappointed and I disagree with it. I am definitely going to contest it,” Sang said.
Former Industrialisation Minister Henry Kosgey and Postmaster General Hussein Ali who served as Police Commissioner during the chaos were cleared of all the charges levelled against them by the prosecution.
In acquitting them, the ICC judges said there was no sufficient evidence presented to them to warrant a full trial.
“In relation to Mr Kosgey, the chamber found that the prosecutor’s evidence failed to satisfy the evidentiary threshold required. The Chamber was not persuaded by the evidence presented by the Prosecutor of Mr Kosgey’s alleged role within the organization,” the majority ruling said.
The judges were particularly concerned that the prosecutor had relied on one anonymous witness and questioned the inconsistencies in dates Kosgey is alleged to have attended meetings to plan violence.
In particular, the judges said “the prosecutor relied on one anonymous and insufficiently corroborated witness. Moreover, the chamber determined that Mr Kosgey suffered prejudice due to the redaction of certain dates related to a number of meetings that he allegedly attended, which proved to be essential for his defence and for the finding on his criminal responsibility.”
“In light of these facts and the entire body of evidence relating to Mr Kosgey’s criminal responsibility, the chamber declined to confirm the charges against Mr Kosgey,” the judges said.