ICC Kenya investigation starts May, trials in 2012
* ICC to try worst perpetrators, Kenya to handle rest
By Ben Berkowitz
THE HAGUE, April 1 (Reuters) - The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor aims this year to complete most of his investigations into the deadly violence that followed Kenya's 2007 election, and to start trials in 2012.
Judges at the ICC approved an investigation on Wednesday into the 2007-2008 Kenyan unrest, in which authorities have said more than 1,200 people were killed, several hundreds raped and more than 350,000 forcibly displaced. [ID:LDE62U1JO]
Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo has said in previous filings that Kenyan some political leaders organised and financed attacks on civilians.
"To contribute to the prevention of crime at the next election, we must move swiftly. We will," he told a news conference at The Hague-based court. "We aim to finalise the bulk of our investigation in 2010."
Kenya's next national elections are due in 2012.
Moreno-Ocampo told Reuters he aims to have filed the first cases and complete confirmation hearings in those by the end of 2011, with trials to start as early as 2012.
The prosecutor noted that the circumstances of this investigation - such as the fact Kenya was a fully formed democracy and that no rebel groups were involved - made it easier to move quickly than in other pending ICC cases.
"I would say the Kenyan cases are our easiest cases," said the Argentine Moreno-Ocampo.
He plans go to Nairobi in May to begin his investigation and ultimately expects to file at least two cases against the worst perpetrators, with one to three people charged per case.
Those charged may or may not come from a list of 20 people considered most responsible that he previously submitted to the court. "As you know the list is just indicative, it is not binding," he told reporters. Moreno-Ocampo reiterated that some suspects, namely those considered most responsible, would be tried in The Hague and that many others would potentially be tried in Kenya. He said he has had full cooperation from the Kenyan government and promises of further cooperation, including in arrests when needed.
He acknowledged that the ICC needed to move quickly to help heal rifts in the country before the next election in 2012.
"I believe if we can proceed with these cases against the most responsible, that will help to prevent violence. But it's not enough," he said.
But some who were affected by the violence were sceptical that the ICC investigation would help matters.
"Many of us are yet to heal or reconcile with our neighbours who attacked us and the move by the ICC will end up bringing more tension," said David Kilo, who lost all his possession during the violence in the Rift Valley town of Naivasha.
"Some of these politicians will go back to their communities saying that they are being persecuted further, straining the current relations between communities." (Additional reporting by Antony Gitonga in Naivasha and Humphrey Malalo in Nairobi; Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton)
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