ON TRIAL: Deputy president of Kenya William Ruto smiles at his ICC trial (PA)
DEPUTY PRESIDENT of Kenya William Ruto is alleged to have formed an army “to go to war for him” at the country’s national elections 2007, the International Criminal Court (ICC) heard.
Ruto is the first serving leader to go on trial at the ICC – he denies charges of crimes against humanity relating to the violence that came after the polls six years ago.
About 1,200 people are reported to have been killed in the post-election fighting, with some 600,000 displaced from their homes.
Ruto and Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta are accused of planning the violence; the latter is set to go on a separate trial at The Hague.
The men were on opposing sides at the 2007 election, but have since formed an alliance that brought them to power this year in a bid for political reconciliation.
Last week Kenya’s parliament passed a vote for the country to leave the ICC, a move that would make it the first nation to rescind its membership.
During the opening stages of the trial in the Netherlands, Ruto is reported to have smiled as he denied three charges of murder, persecution and forcible transfer of people.
His defence lawyer Karim Khan said: “We say that there is a rotten underbelly of this case that the prosecutor has swallowed hook, line and sinker, indifferent to the truth, all too eager to latch on to any... story that somehow ticks the boxes that we have to tick [to support charges]”.
The prosecution claimed Ruto spend 18 months planning violence before the 2007 election took place, securing resources, funds and means to raise a fighting force.
The violence was resolved after international diplomatic intervention that saw former UN secretary general Kofi Annan mediate peace talks.