THE HAGUE // Judges at the International Criminal Court yesterday ordered four prominent Kenyans, including two potential presidential candidates, to stand trial for allegedly orchestrating a deadly wave of violence after their country's disputed 2007 presidential election.
Among the four suspects sent for trial were the deputy prime minister and finance minister, Uhuru Kenyatta, and the former education minister, William Ruto, who both are planning to run for the presidency this year.
More than 1,000 people were killed in post-election violence in Kenya after police ejected observers from the centre where votes were being tallied.
Mr Ruto was ordered to stand trial with the radio broadcaster, Joshua Arap Sang, for crimes against humanity. Another suspect, the former minister of industrialisation, Henry Kiprono Kosgey, was cleared of charges.
None of the suspects was in court for the half-hour hearing at which the presiding judge, Ekaterina Trendafilova, read out a summary of the decision to commit four suspects for trial on charges including murder, persecution and deportation. The hearing was broadcast live in Kenya.
Prosecutors have said the decision to launch an ICC investigation in Kenya should help ease tensions, but there were fears a decision on prosecuting the suspects could have the opposite effect and spark renewed fighting.
It was unclear whether the case could block Mr Ruto and Mr Kenyatta's presidential ambitions, since government officials have issued conflicting statements on whether they will remain eligible to run.
Rights groups welcomed the ruling.