Kenya’s Deputy President, William Ruto, played a key role in the post-election bloodbath that engulfed Kenya in early 2008, the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor told judges at the opening of Ruto’s trial on Tuesday, Reuters reports.
Ruto, the most senior serving politician of any country to appear at the Hague court, pleaded not guilty to crimes against humanity in a case that some Kenyans fear could reignite the political violence they have largely put behind them, says Reuters.
Both Ruto and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta have been accused of orchestrating violence after elections late in 2007, reports the BBC. The trial of the President, who denies charges of fuelling violence, is due to begin in November and will be separate to Ruto’s trial.
Both trials are politically controversial and have a complex legal history, reports the BBC. Kenyatta and Ruto were on opposite sides during the 2007 election and are accused of orchestrating attacks on members of each other’s ethnic groups. They formed an alliance for elections in March, saying they were an example of reconciliation, the BBC reports.
Kenyan public backing for the ICC has slipped, reports Reuters. Last week, the Kenyan Parliament voted for Kenya to withdraw from the ICC’s jurisdiction but the court has said the cases will continue, even if Kenya does withdraw.