Hague opens hearing against former Kenyan minister

Former Kenyan Cabinet minister William Ruto faced the world crimes court in The Hague on Thursday as a hearing opened to confirm whether he should stand trial for masterminding Kenya’s deadly post-election violence in 2007 and 2008.

Former higher education minister Ruto, former industrialisation minister Henry Kosgey and radio executive Joshua arap Sang are facing charges of crimes against humanity before the Hague-based International Criminal Court.

A potential presidential candidate in 2012, Ruto (44) as well as Kosgey (64) and Sang (35) are supporters of opposition candidate, now Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement and are alleged to have targeted supporters of Kenyan President Mwai 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.

A second set of hearings will start on September 21 for three other suspects, including Uhuru Kenyatta, son of Kenya’s founding president and the country’s finance minister.

Ruto’s group faces charges including murder, forcible transfer and persecution committed against perceived supporters of Kibaki’s Party of National Unity following poll results.

Kenya was plunged into violence after the December 27 2007, general elections in which then opposition chief Odinga accused Kibaki of having rigged his way to re-election.

Prosecutors said some 1 200 people were killed and more than 300 000 displaced in the east African country’s worst outbreak of violence since independence in 1963.—AFP

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