Luis Moreno Ocampo, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has arrived in Kenya to start investigations into the country’s post-election violence. After the country’s disputed election in 2008. more than 1,300 people were killed and hundreds of thousands displaced.
The prosecutor will meet victims of the upheavals and senior government officials during his five-day tour. It is Ocampo’s first visit to the country since judges at the ICC gave him the go-ahead to investigate. Ocampo, who will also meet civil society groups and the business community, suggested that as few as two or three people would be prosecuted.
After the 2008’s disputed vote, the country imploded and powerful politicians as well as wealthy business leaders were accused of organising and fuelling attacks. Rival politicians signed a peace deal and agreed to set up a local tribunal to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators. The ICC stepped in because the politicians were blocking the investigation: so far no-one has been punished.
Mr Ocampo said reports of witnesses being threatened was of huge concern. Some witnesses say they have been threatened, and several have been moved out of the country for their own protection.
Luis Moreno Ocampo says the overall goal of his mission is to ensure there is no repeat of the troubles during 2012 elections, said that his witnesses would be protected by the ICC. “Your concern about people being threatened because they were witnesses is a huge concern, but my problem is I cannot provide a solution because it is not my responsibility. It is the responsibility of the government of Kenya” he said.
However, Mr Ocampo made it clear that while the ICC could not protect all witnesses to the violence, it would be taking its own measures to protect witnesses it intends to call. “My witnesses will be protected. We are talking about 30, 40, 50 or 60 people,” he said. He had earlier said that politicians from both sides of the fractious coalition government were on his radar.
A lot of Kenyans eagerly await those names to be made public, and they hope the prosecutions will help end a deeply rooted culture of impunity. Mr Ocampo has so far largely relied on documents gathered from other inquiries. Now he needs his own evidence, and says his investigation will last around six months.
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