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Prosecutor expects 2 Kenya election violence cases

Prosecutor expects 2 Kenya election violence cases

The International Criminal Court will investigate political and business leaders from both sides of Kenya's political divide believed responsible for the deadly violence triggered by the country's disputed 2007 presidential election, a prosecutor said Thursday.
Luis Moreno Ocampo said he has a list of 20 possible suspects that includes high profile leaders from both President Mwai Kibaki's Party of National Unity and Prime Minister Raila Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement.
"We will follow evidence and the evidence shows there were ... leaders from both parties committing massive crimes," he said.
The Argentine lawyer said he will prosecute "those most responsible" for violence that left more than 1,000 dead, thousands of women raped and 600,000 ousted from their homes.
Judges at the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal on Wednesday gave Moreno Ocampo the required authorization to open an investigation in Kenya.
He said he will travel to Kenya next month to talk to victims and visit crime scenes in his probe, which he intends to finalize by year's end. It is not known how many International Criminal Court investigators he will take with him.
"We must proceed promptly to contribute to the prevention of such crimes during the next election cycle," he said. Kenya's next elections are scheduled for 2012.
There have been widespread reports of witness intimidation in Kenya since the violence and Moreno Ocampo pledged to protect witnesses and to streamline cases so fewer witnesses than usual are called to testify in The Hague.
However, he said Kenya also must help.
"It is also the responsibility of Kenyan authorities to ensure that all those who speak in favor of justice are duly protected," he said.
Elizabeth Evenson of Human Rights Watch said Kenya's witness protection is "widely acknowledged to be inadequate" and is being reformed.
"Keeping witnesses safe is a keystone of successful prosecutions, and the ICC should make it a priority to safeguard witnesses and victims in its investigations," Evenson said.
Wednesday's decision to open a Kenya investigation was welcomed by Hassan Omar Hassan of the Kenya National Commission of Human Rights, who said it is the first step toward combating impunity. "It is a victory for the victims of the postelection violence, especially the women and children," Hassan said in Nairobi.
Moreno Ocampo said his investigators would carefully study allegations of huge numbers of rape committed during the violence.
"This is central in the crimes and will be central in the investigation," he said. "The current numbers are around 1,000 rapes. However, in some areas we have records showing for each rape reported another nine rapes happened so if this is true there were at least 10,000 rapes. We cannot ignore that."
The prosecutor did not mention names of any suspects.
Last year, former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, who mediated an end to the fighting, sent Moreno Ocampo a sealed envelope with the names of suspected ringleaders named by an independent commission. Their names were not disclosed, but the commission said they included Cabinet ministers, business people and police officers.