The ICC announces Post Election Trial Dates
By Maureen Kanyingi
The trial for the four Kenyans, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Eldoret North MP William Ruto, former Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura and radio presenter Joshua Arap Sang will start in April next year at the International Criminal Court.
A statement from The Hague based Court declared that the cases against William Ruto and Joshua Arap Sang will start on April 10, 2013 while that of Uhuru Kenyatta and Francis Muthaura will commence on April 13, 2013.
The four are facing charges of perpetrating the post-election unrest of 2008 that followed the disputed 2007 presidential vote.
Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto are potential candidates in the presidential elections set for March 4th next year. The fact that the dates have been set a month after the general elections may dampen the enthusiasm of some of their supporters. They will have doubts electing individuals who will in the very next month head to the International Criminal Court for trial. Many of the men's supporters had however feared that the court would order a trial before the election, perhaps preventing them from running at all. Kenyatta and Ruto's lawyers had campaigned for a trial date after the election. The new dates will therefore allow the two to campaign without any worry of being taken for trial before the general elections. This comes as a big relief to them.
The indictment of an elected president would put Kenya into a similar position as that of Sudan, whose President Omar Hassan al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court to face charges of genocide and other atrocities.
Any conviction of an elected president would dismay investors and Western governments, many of whom wanted the two men to face the court before the election. The key risk to the economy is that an individual indicted for war crimes is elected as the 4th president of the republic.
Kenya's next general election will be under intense scrutiny as it will be the first under a new constitution and the first since the 2007 poll that gave rise to deadly skirmishing in a country previously seen as a relative haven of peace in a troubled region.
The International Criminal Court has just handed down its first sentence, jailing for 14 years a Congolese warlord who recruited and used children under the age of 15 in his Union of Congolese Patriots militia during fighting in Congo's eastern Ituri region in 2002-2003. Thomas Lubanga was arrested by United Nation peacekeepers in 2005 and sent to stand trial in The Hague.
Children as young as 11 years of age were recruited from their homes and schools to take part in brutal ethnic fighting. They were taken to military training camps and beaten and drugged. Girls were used as sex slaves.
Lubanga had pleaded his innocence and said he had not supported the use of child soldiers by the Union of Congolese Patriots militia, But in a unanimous decision, the judges said Lubanga was responsible.
He was convicted by the International Criminal Court on 14th March 2012. The 51-year-old is the first person convicted since the court was set up 10 years ago. Taking into account time in custody, he will now serve a further eight years.
Similarly, we hope justice will not only be done but will be seen to be done for the people of Kenya.