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ICC probe team tours post-poll chaos hotspots

BUSINESS
By | October 16th 2010

By Steve Mkawale, Antony Gitonga and Stella Mwangi

International Criminal Court investigators have started touring areas that were hotspots during the 2007 post-election violence.

The team of four investigators, who were accompanied by local security, visited Nakuru and Naivasha, where scores of Kenyans were killed and others displaced.

Nakuru town hosted thousands of families uprooted from their homes during the violence that erupted soon after the announcement of the 2007 presidential election results.

Yesterday the investigators toured Kaptembwo, Githima and Free Area estates, where marauding gangs linked to members of the outlawed Mungiki sect butchered at least 124 people. They also visited Afraha Stadium and Nakuru ASK Showground, venues that hosted thousands of displaced people for between eight and 14 months.

Nakuru and Naivasha towns were two main hot spots of the violence in the Central Rift region.

A number of witnesses who testified before the Waki Commission claimed businessmen and politicians planned and sponsored the violence in the two towns in retaliation of earlier killings in other parts of the Rift Valley Province.

Yesterday, local human rights organisations welcomed the visit and said it was good news to victims of the violence who have been waiting for justice.

"It is a fantastic move by the ICC investigators, many of those affected by the violence have been waiting for this moment," said Mr David Kuria, the executive director of Nakuru Human Rights Network.

Nakuru Deputy Police Commandant Mathews Gwiyo said they provided security to the three ICC investigators. He said the investigators were familiarising themselves with the areas that were largely affected during the violence and inspecting their current state.

"They will be touring all the estates especially the slum dwellings where hundreds of people were hacked to death and houses torched down," he said.

Among the estates that the investigators will tour include Kiratina, Free Area, Nakuru Teachers, Kaptembwo, Lake View, Mwariki, Githima, and Ponda Mali.

The officials, who were in four Land Cruisers, took pictures at Afraha Stadium before they drove off to the Nakuru Showground.

A number of residents visited seemed not to be aware of the visitors, with some dismissing them as curious foreign tourists.

The team declined to speak to journalists. However, sources close to the investigation team told The Standard On Saturday they plan to listen to a few witnesses in their two-day tour.

"I don’t know the identity of the witnesses and where they will meet with the investigators," said the source. The ICC investigators had indicated that they would concentrate their investigations in the Central Rift region.

The investigators will be in the town until next week. They also visited the house where ten members of the family of a Naivasha fisherman were killed and their house razed.

The group later visited Naivasha stadium where IDPs who fled from Central Rift were camping before heading to the gates of Naivasha GK prison.

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