ICC prosecutors: Kenya trials will take months
International Criminal Court prosecutors plan to call dozens of witnesses to build their cases against four prominent Kenyans charged with involvement in a deadly wave of violence unleashed by the country's 2007 presidential election, according to documents released Thursday.
Two of the suspects have joined political forces to campaign together for the presidency and vice presidency in fresh elections scheduled for March, two months before their separate trials are due to start in The Hague.
Prosecutors said in written filings they plan to call 46 witnesses and take more than 500 hours to lay out their case against former education minister William Ruto and journalist Joshua Arap Sang, both charged with the murder, forcible deportation and persecution of supporters of President Mwai Kibaki's National Unity Party.
They will call 34 witnesses in the trial of Cabinet secretary Francis Muthaura and Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta on charges including murder, forcible deportation, persecution and rape against supporters of Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
All four have pleaded innocent. Their trials are scheduled to start in April.
Before that, Ruto and Kenyatta, who is the son of Kenya's founding father Jomo Kenyatta, are teaming up in the country's March election. Kenyatta is running for president and Ruto for the vice presidency on a joint ticket.
Their alliance appears unlikely as they were on opposite sides of Kenya's political divide during the 2007 election and its violent aftermath which left more than 1,000 people dead.
Were they to win power, it is unclear how they would perform their responsibilities. The number of witnesses and length of time prosecutors need to set out their case suggest trials at the Hague-based court that will likely run to many months.
Three of the suspects are charged as "indirect co-perpetrators" in crimes against humanity allegedly carried out by their supporters. The fourth, Arap Sang, head of a Nairobi radio station, is charged with having contributed to murder, deportation and persecution.
If convicted, they face maximum sentences of life imprisonment.