THE HAGUE, Sept 2 – Post-election violence in Kenya in which over 1,300 people died was not spontaneous but carefully orchestrated by two Kenyan ex-ministers, a prosecutor told the world war crimes court on Friday.
William Ruto and Henry Kosgey allegedly set up a network with arms specialising in politics, the media, finance, the military and a system for involving elders, prosecutor Cynthia Thai told the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC).
“The violence was not spontaneous, it was because William Ruto and Henry Kosgey created an organisation for gaining power,” Ms Thai said.
Mr Ruto and Mr Kosgey, supported by radio executive Joshua arap Sang, were the political heads of the network which was set up to attack political opponents, while Mr Sang “used the media as a weapon to incite these attacks,” she said.
Judges at the court will rule later whether there is sufficient evidence to put Ruto, 44, Kosgey, 64, and Sang, 35, on trial for their alleged roles in the violence.
Ms Thai said witnesses told how Mr Ruto funded the purchase of mobile phones and weapons and how a tradition of respect for instructions given by elders was abused to get people to take part in attacks.
“These victims were deliberately selected and targeted,” another prosecutor Lara Renton told the court. “They were murdered,” she said.
Kenya was plunged into violence after the December 27, 2007 general elections in which then opposition chief Raila Odinga accused Mwai Kibaki of having rigged his way to re-election.
The declaration of victory by President Mwai Kibaki’s ruling party in the disputed 2007 elections was seen by his rivals as a “signal to go to war,” Ms Thai added.
“Their whole intention and purpose was to attack supporters of (Kibaki’s) Party of National Unity,” she said of the trio.
“Ruto… gave the money and weapons and co-ordinated the attacks,” she said, while Kosgey “endorsed it by virtue of his authority.”
Ms Thai described eight meetings being held in Kenya’s Rift Valley from December 2006 onwards in which the attacks were planned and coordinated by Ruto and Kosgey and their subordinates and also how Ruto promised to pay those participating.
Thai closed her argument by stating: “These crimes were committed with the intention of furthering the network’s criminal activities.”
Once seen as a potential presidential candidate in 2012, ex-Higher Education Minister Ruto, as well as former Industrialisation Minister Kosgey and Sang are facing charges of crimes against humanity including murder, forcible transfer and persecution.
The three were supporters of opposition candidate – now Prime Minister – Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and are alleged to have targeted Kibaki supporters after the disputed polls.
The hearings are scheduled to run until September 12.
A second set of hearings will start on September 21 for three other suspects Uhuru Kenyatta, Francis Muthaura and Hussein Ali.
Prosecutors said 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.