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Kenyan parliament has approved a motion to leave the International Criminal Court (ICC) following an emergency debate.

A bill to this effect is expected to be introduced in the next 30 days, after opposition MPs boycotted the vote.

The ICC has charged President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto with crimes against humanity, which they both deny. William Ruto’s trial is due to start in The Hague next week.

The ICC said the cases would continue even if Kenya pulled out.

The charges against both Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto stem from violence that broke out after disputed elections in 2007, in which more than 1,000 people were killed and 600,000 forced from their homes.

Uhuru Kenyatta is to go on trial in November.

They were on opposite sides during the 2007 election but formed an alliance for elections in March this year, and analysts say the ICC prosecutions bolstered their campaign as they portrayed it as foreign interference in Kenya’s domestic affairs.

Kenyan parliament has approved a motion to leave the ICC following an emergency debate

Kenyan parliament has approved a motion to leave the ICC following an emergency debate

Eeven though the vote does not halt the cases, it sends a powerful signal of defiance to The Hague – a sentiment that is becoming increasingly popular, in Kenya and across much of Africa.

No other country has withdrawn from the ICC.

Kenya’s parliament is dominated by the Jubilee coalition formed by Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto.

The motion, tabled by majority leader Adan Duale, said the pair had been “lawfully elected” and the government should take steps to “immediately” withdraw from the Rome Statute, which established the ICC.

It also says Kenya will “suspend any links, cooperation and assistance” to the ICC.

Adan Duale noted that the US had refused to sign the Rome Statute to protect its citizens and soldiers from potential politically motivated prosecutions.

“Let us protect our citizens. Let us defend the sovereignty of the nation of Kenya,” Adan Duale is quoted as saying.

MPs from the opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD), led by former PM Raila Odinga, walked out of the debate, calling the motion “capricious” and “ill-considered”.

Kenya’s withdrawal would not bring “honor to the nation and dignity to our leaders”, CORD said in a statement.

“Kenya cannot exist outside the realm of international law,” it said.

In May, the African Union accused the ICC of “hunting” Africans because of their race.

The ICC strongly denies this, saying it is fighting for the rights of the African victims of atrocities.

The court was set up in 2002 to deal with genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.

The ICC has been ratified by 122 countries, including 34 in Africa.

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Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has begun his defence at his war crimes trial at The Hague court by denying the charges and saying he should instead be rewarded for reducing suffering.

Radovan Karadzic told court in The Hague he was a “tolerant man” who had sought peace.

He was arrested in Belgrade in 2008 after almost 13 years on the run.

Radovan Karadzic faces 10 charges of genocide war crimes and crimes against humanity during the war in the 1990s, including the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica.

More than 7,000 Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) men and boys were killed at Srebrenica in the worst atrocity in Europe since the end of World War II.

He is also being prosecuted over the 44-month siege of Sarajevo, in which more than 12,000 civilians died.

Radovan Karadzic, 67, went on trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in October 2009.

He began his lengthy personal statement by saying he had done “everything within human power to avoid the war and to reduce the human suffering”.

Speaking calmly, Radovan Karadzic said he was a “mild man, a tolerant man with great capacity to understand others”.

He had stopped the Bosnian Serb army many times when it had been close to victory, he said, had sought peace agreements, applied humanitarian measures and honored international law.

Radovan Karadzic insisted that there had been no history of conflict between ethnic groups until Serbs came to feel increasingly threatened by growing power amongst Muslims in Serbia.

“Neither I, nor anyone else that I know, thought that there would be a genocide against those who were not Serbs,” he said.

He criticized media coverage of the war as biased and disputed the official number of victims of the war, saying the true figure was three to four times less.

“As time passes this truth will be stronger and stronger, and the accusations and the propaganda, the lies and hatred, will get weaker and weaker,” Radovan Karadzic said.

Many survivors and relatives of the war’s victims have travelled from Bosnia to see the man they hold most responsible for their suffering deliver his statement.

Each of Radovan Kradzic’s statements was met with cries of dismay, disgust and disbelief from the public gallery.

Radovan Karadzic is also expected to be questioned about the shelling of a market in Sarajevo in August 1995, an event he says was staged.

He is thought to have as his first witness Col. Andrey Demurenko, a Russian, who was chief of staff of the UN peacekeeping force in Sarajevo in 1995.

In June, Radovan Karadzic had one charge of genocide – related to the forcible expulsion of hundreds of thousands of non-Serbs from towns and villages in Bosnia – dismissed. But he failed in his attempt to have the other charges against him dropped.

Former Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic is also on trial at The Hague.

Charges against Radovan Karadzic:

  • Ordered or planned genocide of Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks) and Bosnian Croats to permanently remove them from territories of Bosnia and Hercegovina
  • Persecuted Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats – responsible for “acts of extermination and murder”
  • Masterminded the massacre of mmore than 7,000 Bosniak men and boys at Srebrenica in 1995
  • Responsible for siege of Sarajevo 1992-95, in which 12,000 civilians died
  • Took UN peacekeepers and military observers hostage

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