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UN rejects Kenya request to defer ICC case

UNITED NATIONS, Apr 9 – Kenya failed in a bid on Friday to persuade the UN Security Council to suspend International Criminal Court crimes against humanity charges against six top Kenyan officials.

The charges date from unrest that erupted after the disputed reelection of President Mwai Kibaki in December 2007, in which about 1,200 people died. The six appeared in court in The Hague on Thursday and Friday.

But Kenya had launched a high-profile campaign to have the Security Council suspend the charges for a year under the court\’s founding statutes. It argued that the cases risked triggering new political turmoil.

"After full consideration the members of the Security Council did not agree on the matter," Security Council president Nestor Osorio, Colombia\’s UN ambassador, told reporters following a meeting on the request.

African nations on the 15-member council had demanded that the Security Council at least hear Kenya\’s case. But Britain, France and the United States — which as permanent members can veto any resolution — and other western nations strongly opposed a suspension, diplomats said.

"As there is no agreement, it means the episode will now be dropped," one diplomat told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Under article 16 of the Rome treaty which set up the ICC, the council can defer the charges for one year. Sudan has launched a similar campaign for its president Omar al-Bashir, who faces war crimes and crimes against humanity charges in the Darfur conflict.

The Kenya six face charges including murder, deportation, rape, inhumane acts, persecution and torture.

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Kenya Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta denied charges of crimes against humanity after appearing with two co-defendants before the ICC.

Kenyatta, son of Kenya\’s founding father Jomo Kenyatta, appeared at a pre-trial hearing with Francis Muthaura, Kibaki\’s right-hand man, and Mohammed Hussein Ali, the chief of police at the time of the violence pitting supporters of Kibaki against those of his rival Raila Odinga, now the prime minister.

On Thursday, Kenya\’s former higher education minister William Ruto, former industry minister Henry Kosgey and radio presenter Joshua Arap Sang appeared in the same court.

Kenyatta, Muthaura and Ali are linked to Kibaki, while Ruto, Kosgey and Sang are supporters of Odinga, who was made prime minister in a deal to end the violence.


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