Q+A - What to expect in ICC probe into Kenyan violence

AMSTERDAM Tue Apr 5, 2011 12:46pm BST

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AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Six Kenyans accused of crimes against humanity in their country's post-election violence in 2007-08 will make initial appearances this week at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

Here are the following steps in the investigation.

WHO HAS BEEN SUMMONSED AND WHAT FOR? Suspended Education Minister William Samoei Ruto, suspended Industrialisation Minister Henry Kiprono Kosgey and radio executive Joshua Arap Sang have been accused of crimes against humanity, including murder, forcible transfer and persecution.

In a second case, Cabinet Secretary Francis Kirimi Muthaura, Finance Minister Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta and former police chief Mohammed Hussein Ali are accused of crimes against humanity, including murder, forcible transfer, rape and persecution.

Three of the accused will appear in court on Thursday, and the three others on Friday.

WHY A SUMMONS?

A summons was issued because judges were satisfied that the suspects would appear voluntarily. The court can issue arrest warrants, however, if that is considered necessary.

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF AN INITIAL APPEARANCE?

At an initial appearance, the pre-trial chamber will ensure that the person has been informed of the crimes which he or she is alleged to have committed, and of his or her rights under the 1998 Rome Statute which set up the court.

If suspects have been arrested to ensure their appearance, they may apply for interim release pending trial.

WHAT ARE THE NEXT STEPS?

After an initial hearing, a confirmation of charges hearing takes place "within a reasonable time" after the accused's surrender or voluntary appearance before the court.

At that hearing, the prosecutor is required to support each charge with sufficient evidence to establish substantial grounds for believing the person committed the crime.

The accused may object to the charges, challenge the evidence and present their own evidence.

Within 60 days of the end of that hearing, starting from the date that any possible written submissions are filed after the oral hearing, the court must decide whether to drop the charges, request the prosecutor submit more evidence, or order the suspect to stand trial.

THE TRIAL

If the court orders the accused to stand trial, a date will be set and the accused must be present during the trial.

HASN'T KENYA CHALLENGED THE ICC PROCEEDINGS?

Yes, Kenya is trying to ward off the ICC proceedings.

First, Kenya's government has asked the United Nations Security Council -- which has influence over the ICC -- to suspend the cases for a year, and eventually have them heard in Nairobi under a local court following judicial reforms.

France, the United States and Britain -- all permanent members -- oppose a deferral, envoys have said, and France also said the request would most likely be rejected.

Article 16 of the Rome Statute allows the Security Council to suspend the court's proceedings for up to 12 months at a time in the interests of peace, but the council cannot permanently halt ICC cases.

In addition, the Kenyan government has requested ICC judges declare both cases inadmissible under Article 19 of the Rome Statute. It argues that the adoption of the country's new constitution and other reforms have opened the way for Kenya to conduct its own prosecutions for the post-election violence.

Judges must decide whether Kenya, rather than the court, has jurisdiction to try the cases. But the challenge does not affect the validity of the summonses to appear this week.

There is no specific time limit during which the judges should make a decision regarding this application.

(Editing by David Clarke and Jeffrey Heller)

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