, THE HAGUE, Jun 12 – The trials of four top Kenyans accused of fomenting deadly post-poll violence must be “synchronised” to prevent potential unrest in the east African country, a prosecutor said on Tuesday.
Prosecutor Adesola Adeboyeyo told the International Criminal Court the trial of Uhuru Kenyatta and his co-accused Francis Muthaura should be held “as near as possible” to that of the two other accused William Ruto and Joshua arap Sang.
The court ruled in January that the four men should go on trial for their alleged roles in the December 2007 violence in which 1,300 people died.
“We propose that the dates for the trial be synchronised as closely as possible for both trials… to avoid tensions that would arise if one of the cases is moving faster than the other, in view of the situation in Kenya,” Adeboyeyo said.
The defence on Monday proposed a trial date in March.
Presiding Judge Kuniko Ozaki said a ruling on the trial date would be made before the start of the court’s summer recess on July 14.
Deputy prime minister Kenyatta and former civil service chief Muthaura face five counts including orchestrating murder, rape, forcible transfer and persecution in the polls’ aftermath.
Former minister Ruto and radio boss Sang face three counts of murder, forcible transfer and persecution.
Both Ruto and Kenyatta are contenders in elections planned for next year.
Violence shattered Kenya’s image as a regional beacon of stability when then opposition chief Raila Odinga accused President Mwai Kibaki of rigging his way to re-election following the December 27, 2007 polls.
What began as political riots, quickly turned into ethnic killings of Kenyatta’s Kikuyu tribe, who in return launched reprisal attacks, plunging Kenya into its worst wave of violence since independence in 1963.