President Uhuru Kenyatta, right, and Vice President William Ruto both face trial at the ICC in The Hague [Reuters]
|Kenya’s Vice President William Ruto is set to go on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for charges of crimes against humanity.
Ruto, 46, flew in to The Hague from Nairobi on Monday to face the charges related to the deadly post-election violence in the east African nation five years ago.
The trial, beginning at 07:30 GMT on Tuesday, comes just days after lawmakers in Kenya became the first in the world to approve moves to withdraw recognition of the court’s jurisdiction.
Any move by Kenya to leave the ICC’s Rome Statute will have no effect on the current trials, but observers fear it may spark an exodus of court member states in Africa, where all the ICC’s current cases are based.
Ruto and his co-accused, radio boss Joshua arap Sang, 38, each face three counts of murder, deportation and persecution after a wave of violence swept Kenya in 2007-08, leaving at least 1,100 dead and more than 600,000 homeless.
Both will plead not guilty.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, a one-time political foe of Ruto’s turned ally, goes on trial at the ICC on November 12. He also says he is innocent.
Dozens of Kenyan MPs have promised to show their support for the accused by flying to the Netherlands for the start of the trial.
Violence in 2007-2008 laid bare simmering ethnic tensions. The violence was mainly directed at members of Kenya’s largest Kikuyu tribe, who were perceived as supporters of then president Mwai Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU).
Pre-trial judges said evidence suggested that Ruto held a number of meetings to plan the ethnic killings as far back as December 2006.
Initial attacks quickly led to reprisals, with homes torched and more people hacked to death, bringing some parts of the country to the brink of civil war.
The ICC, the world’s only independent, permanent tribunal for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity, took charge of the cases after Nairobi failed to set up a tribunal of its own in line with agreements brokered by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan.
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