Detectives on Monday questioned the third member of the Ocampo Six as the government goes all out to show the Hague that it is serious about prosecuting election violence cases.
Mr William Ruto, former Higher Education minister, was questioned for three hours by officers from the Criminal Investigations Department over his alleged role in the chaos after the disputed 2007 elections.
Others who have been questioned are suspended Industrialisation minister Henry Kosgey and radio presenter Joshua Sang.
Detectives said they were also interested in taking statements from Head Civil Service Francis Muthaura, Finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta and former police boss Hussein Ali.
But Mr Muthaura’s lawyers said they were focused on clearing his name at the International Criminal Court and that the local proceedings are “a distraction”.
The government is appealing a decision of the Pre-Trial Chamber to strike out its case, arguing that the cases facing the six suspects be tried at home. The court ruled that Kenya had shown no evidence that it was willing and able to try the suspects.
CID director Ndegwa Muhoro said the interrogations are part of investigations aimed at prosecuting suspected perpetrators of post-election violence.
“We had summoned him (Ruto) so that we could talk to him about those issues. We are making efforts to speak to the others. We are looking forward to that opportunity. He (Ruto) is the third person we’ve talked to,” he said.
Among the crimes being investigated are murder, rape and arson.
A team of senior CID officers formed in November last year has been reviewing criminal cases reported during the violence.
According to police, up to 6,000 people could be taken to court for the crimes if a special court to try them is established in Kenya.
Said Mr Muhoro: “We started by collecting as much data as possible. Beside the six, there are many others we would rely on before moving to court.”
The team at the headquarters has been involved in reconstructing files that were originally opened at various police stations, effectively taking over all the cases.
The post-election violence was the result of disputed presidential election results in which President Kibaki was declared the winner. More than 1,133 died during the violence, 650,000 others displaced and property worth millions of shillings destroyed.
Formed a coalition
The violence ended after former UN secretary general Kofi Annan mediated the opposing PNU and ODM sides and President Kibaki and Mr Raila Odinga formed a coalition government with the latter as Prime Minister.
The interrogation by the CID is part of the government’s efforts to convince the ICC that it was capable of trying the Ocampo Six if they are found to have been behind the violence.
This happened as the ICC Appeals Chamber asked Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo and the suspects to, by Thursday, make submissions on a request by Kenya to be allowed to make oral presentations on its case arguing that the suspects should not be tried at the Hague.
Last week, the government through its British lawyers, asked the Appeals Chamber to allow it to make oral observations before a verdict is reached on its appeal against a decision by the Pre-Trial Chamber to reject its case challenging the right of the ICC to hear the cases.
The ICC has already dismissed reports submitted by the government last month to prove that local investigations were under way.
Mr Ruto arrived at the CID headquarters on Kiambu Road at 9am and was questioned over the role he is alleged to have played in the chaos. He came out of the session at 11.45 am.
“It is true that I was at the CID offices today (Monday) in relation to my alleged role during the post election violence. They asked me several questions which I answered to the best of my knowledge,” Mr Ruto said.
And it appeared the CID were borrowing from the evidence collected by Mr Moreno-Ocampo on the alleged role that Mr Ruto played in the violence, especially the killings in the Rift Valley Province.