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Majority of Kenyans still support ICC trials: study

(Xinhua)

10:25, January 20, 2012

NAIROBI, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- The Majority of Kenyans still support the International Criminal Court (ICC) trials of six key individuals suspected to have masterminded the country's post election violence in 2007/08, according to a newly released studay.

The study released by Ipsos-Synovate pollsters in Nairobi on Thursday reveals that the level of support stands at 54 percent while 35 percent are against while 11 percent of Kenyans have no opinion on the matter.

"The reason for the increase in support for ICC was because of the manner the suspects had been defended during the confirmation hearings in August and September last year," polling firm's Managing Director Maggie Ireri told journalists in Nairobi.

The findings come as the world court is expected to announce by Monday whether it is confirming crimes against humanity charges against six prominent Kenyans. The six include two senior politicians who are running for the next presidential elections in either 2012 or 2013.

Judges of the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber must decide whether, on the basis of preliminary evidence, there are"substantial grounds" to go ahead with a trial. The judges may also decide to dismiss charges against one or more of the accused, or ask the prosecutor to provide additional information.

The suspects include Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, former Police Commissioner Hussein Ali and Cabinet Secretary Francis Muthaura, who are charged together and who are considered close to the Party of National Unity of President Mwai Kibaki, who was re- elected in the disputed 2007 presidential elections.

The other case involves members of parliament Henry Kosgey and William Ruto, along with radio journalist Joshua Arap Sang who are all considered close to the Orange Democratic Movement of current Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Speaking on Thursday, Ireri noted that those who are in support of the ICC process feel that it's through the court that justice will be done for both the accused and the victims of the post election violence.

She said that some of the respondents backing the world court also felt that it was through the legal process that impunity would be stopped in the country.

However, Ireri said that those who are opposed to ICC process feel that the six suspects are not the real suspects, with others saying that the case should have been handled locally. Others are of the opinion that the ICC did not carry out enough investigations.

The survey which was conducted between December 12-19, 2011 reveals that confirmation or withdrawal of the charges at the ICC will change the political landscape ahead of the general elections and may have an impact on the ratings of presidential aspirants.

The latest rate is 10 points less than a survey of South Consulting Company hired by Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation (KNDR) team which said support for ICC process stood at 64 percent in a report released Wednesday.

"As politicians position themselves, the varying support levels for the ICC Trials by region does point to potential regional political re-alignments," Ireri said.

The ICC on Wednesday appealed to Kenyans to remain calm after the fate of the six prominent individuals is announced by the Pre-Trial Chamber.

ICC Spokesman Fadi el Abdallah said the Pre-Trial Chamber led by Judge Ekaterina Trendafilova has asked Kenyans to accept the court's decision and restrain their actions or utterances likely to provoke tension in the country.

"The judges reiterated their appeal to all Kenyans to refrain from engaging in any actions that may endanger the security, the property or the safety of any victim or witness, and to also refrain from engaging in actions likely to raise tensions in the country," Abdallah said.

In case the charges are confirmed, the spokesman stressed that the suspects would remain innocent until conclusion of their trial.

"The defendant is and continues to be presumed innocent until guilt is proven after a trial beyond any reasonable doubt." Not confirming the charges also doesn't mean the end of the case, Abdallah explained, saying the prosecutor can ask the Pre-Trial Chamber to allow him to appeal against their decision," Abdallah said.

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