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ICC to pursue suspects in Kenya election chaos

By the CNN Wire Staff
Residents of a Nairobi slum shout at demonstrators during clashes after the 2007 disputed election.
Residents of a Nairobi slum shout at demonstrators during clashes after the 2007 disputed election.
  • The violence from the disputed election killed hundreds
  • The ICC is investigating top Kenyan officials over their alleged roles
  • The moves grants the ICC various privileges in the investigation

Nairobi, Kenya (CNN) -- Kenya has cleared the way for the International Criminal Court to pursue the masterminds of post-election violence -- a week after the nation came under fire for hosting the court's top target, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

The violence from the disputed election in 2007 killed more than 1,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands.

ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo is investigating top Kenyan officials and business leaders for their alleged roles in the chaos following the disputed poll.

Kenya's move Friday grants the international court various privileges during its investigation, including logistical support, safety and security, and victim and witness protection, the court said in a statement.

The ICC said in a statement it trusts "the government of Kenya will fully respect its obligations under the Rome Statute and will facilitate the important work of the court."

The east African nation faced international criticism for hosting al-Bashir during a ceremony last week to mark Kenya's new constitution. The ICC had already issued an arrest warrant for al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the west Sudanese region of Darfur.

Kenya's decision to invite al-Bashir led to questions about its commitment to cooperate with the court in investigations into its post-election violence.

The ICC argues Kenya had a legal obligation to arrest him because it is a signatory to the Rome Statute that set up the court. The court, based in the Hague, Netherlands, relies on member states to turn in suspects.

Kenyan government spokesman Alfred Mutua disagreed, however, saying arresting him would have triggered regional instability.

"Kenya's obligation was first to the AU and then to ICC. If Sudan (is) destabilized it is us who would suffer, not the West," he said.

The African Union opposes the arrest warrants for al-Bashir, saying his arrest could destabilize Sudan.

CNN's Faith Karimi in Atlanta, Georgia, and David McKenzie in Nairobi, Kenya, contributed to this report.