EU worried over threats to ICC witnesses

December 7, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Dec 7 – The EU said on Tuesday it was worried about the growing harassment of witnesses of Kenya\’s 2008 post-election violence as the International Criminal Court readies to give names of the suspected materminds.

The head of the European Union in Kenya Eric van der Linden voiced the EU\’s "serious concern" over the "increasing harassment of potential witnesses and the human rights defenders that are trying to assist them".

The Kenyan "government must do more to ensure that witnesses are protected and that human rights defenders are not intimidated," Van der Linden told journalists.

Two alleged witnesses last month retracted their statements against one of the alleged instigators of the violence, William Ruto, claiming they had been paid to testify against the influential former minister.

Since that incident police have opened an investigation into the head of the Kenyan Human Rights Commission, Hassan Omar, who is accused of having bribed the witnesses, an accusation he denies.

ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo last week announced that before December 17 he would make public the names of the six suspected masterminds that the ICC is pursuing.

The violence that followed the disputed elections of December 2007 left more than 1,500 dead and 30,000 displaced.

Moreno-Ocampo said last week those suspected of intimidating ICC witnesses would be investigated.

The EU representative, asked about the risk of renewed violence when the six names are published, said: "We trust that Kenyans will respect the due legal process and avoid incitement to violence".


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