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updated: 9/1/2011 11:27 AM

Suspect says prosecutor failed in Kenya probe

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Associated Press

THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- The lawyer for a Kenyan lawmaker accused of involvement in deadly violence that erupted after his country's 2007 presidential elections said Thursday the International Criminal Court's investigation is fundamentally flawed.

David Hooper, a British lawyer representing lawmaker William Ruto, said Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo failed to investigate evidence that could clear Ruto or mitigate his guilt. Moreno-Ocampo is obligated by the court's founding statute to investigate both incriminating evidence and evidence that could clear a defendant.

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Moreno-Ocampo was in court Thursday but did not respond.

"You have been given a slanted and wrong interpretation of events," Hooper said at the start of a preliminary hearing of evidence against Ruto and two other Kenyans charged with murder, deportation and persecution during the post-election spasm of violence.

Documents circulated Thursday by prosecutors put the reported death toll at 1,133 and said 3,561 people were injured. A total of 663,921 people were listed as "internally displaced" during the violence in late 2007 and early 2008.

The violence erupted after President Mwai Kibaki was declared winner of the December 2007 vote that supporters of the leading opposition candidate Raila Odinga said was rigged.

Postelection clashes occurred between tribes that supported Kibaki, a Kikuyu, and those that supported Odinga, a Luo. Fighting stopped after former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan mediated an agreement that made Odinga prime minister.

A three judge panel will hear in coming days a brief summary of evidence against Ruto, fellow lawmaker Henry Kiprono Kosgey and radio broadcaster Joshua Arap Sang and then decide whether it is strong enough to merit sending them to trial. All three suspects, supporters of Odinga during the unrest, insist they are innocent.

Three other prominent Kenyans, supporters of Kibaki, face a similar hearing later this month for their alleged roles in the violence.

Hooper said Thursday that evidence against Ruto is based on "a flawed investigation and over-reliance on a handful of anonymous witnesses."

Kenya's government has tried hard to have the case in The Hague halted, saying it is investigating the suspects and they should be prosecuted in their home country. However, International Criminal Court appeals judges this week rejected that argument.

Judges at Thursday's hearing rejected a Kenyan request to have two of its lawyers sit in on the hearing.

Defense lawyers also have challenged the court's jurisdiction in the case in a written motion.

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