The Deputy President played a key role in the post-election bloodbath that engulfed Kenya in 2008, the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor told judges at the opening of his trial today.
The first serving politician to appear in the dock at The Hague, William Ruto pleaded not guilty to crimes against humanity in a case that some Kenyans fear could reignite the political violence they have struggled to put behind them.
Mr Ruto and his co-defendant Joshua arap Sang are accused of working with other conspirators to murder, deport and persecute supporters of rival parties in the Rift Valley region. “He assigned responsibilities, raised finance, procured weapons,” over the 18 months leading up to the elections, said Fatou Bensouda, for the prosecution. “When the election was lost, he gave the order to attack.”
Mr Ruto’s lawyer accused prosecutors of using tainted evidence and false testimony, and called on them to drop the charges.President Uhuru Kenyatta, Mr Ruto’s former rival and now his political ally, will be tried on similar charges in November.
Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto were on opposite sides in the 2007 election and are accused of orchestrating attacks on members of each other’s ethnic groups. More than 1,200 people were killed.