Kenya Files Challenge Against ICC’s Post-Election Violence Cases

Kenya’s government filed applications challenging the International Criminal Court’s authority to try six Kenyans accused of planning post-election violence that killed an estimated 1,500 people three years ago.

Suspects Henry Kosgey, who resigned as industrialization minister in January, suspended Higher Education Minister William Ruto and radio presenter Joshua Arap Sang are due to appear at the Hague-based court on April 7. The next day, Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Francis Muthaura, head of the civil service, and Mohammed Hussein Ali are expected to face the court.

The government is disputing both whether the cases are admissible and if the ICC has jurisdiction over them, Alfred Mutua said in a phone interview from Nairobi, the capital, today. U.K.-based lawyers Geoffrey Nice and Rodney Dixon are contesting the suits on behalf of the Kenyan government.

Fighting flared between ethnic groups in Kenya after incumbent President Mwai Kibaki claimed victory in an election in December 2007, which the opposition said was rigged.

The violence abated after two months when Kibaki signed a power-sharing accord with his political rival Raila Odinga, who was installed as prime minister. No one in East Africa’s largest economy has been convicted for orchestrating the offences.

The ICC investigation found evidence that the six accused are responsible for crimes against humanity. All of the men defend their innocence and say they’ll obey the summonses.

Kenyatta and Muthaura have for the interim stepped down from key security posts, Mutua said. Kenyatta quit the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Security and Foreign Relations and the Witness Protection Advisory Board, the Daily Nation newspaper reported today. Muthaura resigned as chairman of the National Security Advisory Committee, the Nairobi-based newspaper said.

“They’ve opted out for this period as members of these committees,” Mutua said.

ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo last month demanded to know whether Muthaura’s position as head of the public service granted him access to the state’s security apparatus in a way that might interfere with witnesses.

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