Kenya poll unrest trial 'could begin March 2013'
6/11/2012 12:30:02 PM -
THE HAGUE (AFP) - Two of four Kenyans accused of orchestrating deadly post-poll violence five years ago will be ready to go on trial by March next year, prosecutors and defence lawyers agreed on Monday.
The ICC had ruled in January that former minister William Ruto, 45, and radio boss Joshua arap Sang, 36, should be tried for crimes against humanity for organising attacks on ruling party supporters after disputed 2007 polls.
"Both the defence teams have submitted March 2013 for the start of the trial date," said Florence Darques-Lane for the prosecution at a hearing before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
"The prosecution has no objection to setting a trial date at such time," Darques-Lane said.
Ruto's lawyer David Hooper added: "We concur with March of next year."
Judge Kuniko Ozaki said a ruling on the trial date will be made before the start of the court's summer recess on July 14.
The east African country's first general elections since the violence that broke out after the 2007 polls are due to take place on March 4, although the date announced by the electoral commission remains disputed.
Ruto and Sang face three counts of murder, forcible transfer and persecution relating to attacks by members of the opposition Orange Democratic Movement against ruling Party of National Unity supporters.
Two then PNU members, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and former civil service chief Francis Muthaura are also to face trial for their roles in the unrest. Their hearing to set a possible trial date takes place on Tuesday.
Kenyatta and Muthaura face five counts including orchestrating murder, rape, forcible transfer and persecution in the polls' aftermath.
Both Ruto and Kenyatta have declared their intention to contest next year's presidential vote but they have also vowed to cooperate with the ICC.
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.
More than 1,100 people died during the violence.