UN shelves Kenya request to defer ICC case

The UN Security Council shelved on Friday a request by Kenya to defer International Criminal Court (ICC) proceedings against six Kenyans charged with inciting violence after the country’s disputed 2007 elections.

Diplomats said key members of the council opposed the request submitted by Kenya’s permanent UN representative to the 15-nation body.

ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo is presenting two cases to the court accusing a total of six government and business officials of instigating ethnic violence in which more than 1 200 people died after the poll.

The six appeared at the ICC in The Hague on Thursday and Friday under summons as part of the war crimes court’s investigation into the violence.

Following closed-door Security Council consultations on the deferment request, Colombian Ambassador Nestor Osorio, this month’s council president, told reporters that “after full consideration, the members of the Security Council did not agree on the matter”.

“That’s a polite way of saying it’s not going to happen,” one diplomat said of the widely expected move.

Under the ICC statute, the Security Council may suspend proceedings for up to a year at a time. But diplomats said that, while the council was divided, veto-holding members Britain, France and the United States opposed the deferment.

Osorio said the Kenyan request would not be taken up again by the council “for the time being”.

The bloodshed between Kenya’s Orange Democratic Movement and the Party of National Unity damaged the country’s reputation for stability in an otherwise turbulent region.

The accused are Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Cabinet secretary Francis Muthaura, Postal Corporation chief Hussein Ali, suspended government ministers William Ruto and Henry Kosgey, and radio executive Joshua Arap Sang.

ICC judges are still to decide whether Kenya, rather than the court, has jurisdiction to try the cases, but the judicial proceedings in The Hague will not be halted in the meantime.

The court said on Friday it would hold a confirmation of charges hearing on September 21, after which judges will need to decide whether the suspects should stand trial. – Reuters

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