, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 1 – The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Thursday rejected a request by the Kenyan government to have two representatives present in court, during the ongoing confirmation of charges hearings in The Hague.
Presiding judge Ekaterina Trendafilova ruled that the Kenyan Government had no role in the proceedings.
“With all our due respect to the Government of Kenya, we took a decision rejecting the request. “The reasoning goes to the lack of any submission before the Pre-Trial Chamber raising an issue in the pending proceedings and this means the government of Kenya has no procedural standing before this chamber with regard to the proceedings that are running before Pre-Trial Chamber II,” she asserted.
In her opening remarks, judge Trendafilova also informed parties in the case that the court would not amend the schedule of hearings as requested by Eldoret North MP William Ruto and radio personality Joshua arap Sang who wanted five more days to respond to the allegations they are facing.
The judge further reminded the parties to stick to the rules and procedures of the court as she warned; “any deviations will not be tolerated.”
She further clarified to the parties that the confirmation of charges hearings were not a mini-trial; “This chamber does not decide on guilt.”
Mr Ruto, Mr Sang and Tinderet MP Henry Kosgey appeared before the world crimes court as hearings opened on Thursday at The Hague to confirm if they should stand trial for allegedly masterminding the deadly Kenya post-election violence of 2008.
The three faces charges including murder, forcible transfer and persecution committed against perceived supporters of Mwai Kibaki’s Party of National Unity following disputed poll results.
A potential presidential candidate in 2012, Mr Ruto, 44, as well as Mr Kosgey, 64, and Mr Sang, 35, were supporters of opposition candidate – now Prime Minister – Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and are alleged to have targeted supporters of President Kibaki after the disputed 2007 polls.
The hearings, during which prosecutors will try to convince the court they have enough evidence to go to trial, are scheduled to run until September 12.
The three men arrived earlier on Thursday at the court’s building in The Hague where Mr Sang told some 20 journalists waiting at the entrance: “I am feeling good, I have just come to explain myself here today.”
“I’m innocent, I’ll always be innocent,” he said.
Kenya was plunged into violence after the December 27, 2007 general elections in which then opposition chief Mr Odinga accused President Kibaki of having rigged his way to re-election.
They are believed to have been part of a plan “targeting members of the civilian population supporting (Kibaki’s) Party for National Unity (PNU), in order to punish them and evict them from the Rift Valley with the ultimate goal of gaining power and creating a uniform ODM voting bloc.”
Prosecutors said some 1,300 people were killed and more than 600,000 displaced in the east African country’s worst outbreak of violence since independence in 1963.
A second set of hearings will start on September 21 for three other suspects, including Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Postmaster General Hussein Ali and Head of Civil Service Amb Francis Muthaura.