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Mungiki in the eyes of Bensouda – Part 1

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ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda (right) at a past ICC event at The Hague Natherlands. A pre-trial brief she released in January this year identifies the Mungiki as a powerful group that was capable of running its own government (Photo/Munyakei).

A public redacted pre-trial brief by the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) at the International Criminal Court (ICC) identified the Mungiki as a vicious menacing terror group that was capable of doing anything during the post election violence of 2007/2008 to protect the interests of the Party of National Unity (PNU).

According to a pre-trial brief that was released in January showing part of the evidence the OTP was to present in the case against President Uhuru Kenyatta, Mungiki was a group that was too powerful it could run its own government during the two month long skirmishes that nearly brought Kenya to its knees.

The OTP says Mungiki was formed in the late 1980’s in the Rift Valley,

“by Maina Njenga and others as a self defense and tribal militia following land-related ethnic clashes.”

“The Mungiki, which means many or multitude in the Kikuyu language was an organization primarily comprised of Kenyans from the “GEMA” community (ethnic Gikuyu/Kikuyu, Embu, and Meru), the majority of whom were Kikuyu,” the brief states.

From here

“it quickly grew in size, expanded outside the Rift Valley, and developed a national presence,” and by the time it was banned by the Kenyan government in 2002, the brief adds, the group had become

“increasingly involved in extortion and violent crime, including armed confrontations with the police and other ethnic militias.”

During the Kibaki administration, the brief says the group had a somewhat love-hate relationship with the government, which depended on the political temperature at any given time.

“After the Mungiki opposed the Kibaki government in the 2005 constitutional referendum the government launched a campaign of extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances, and arbitrary arrests of Mungiki members.”

The OTP further alleges that although this operation continued up to 2007, the PNU suspended it in 2007 so as to secure the group’s backing in the 2007 general election.

While the OTP does not give figures to show the size of the Mungiki especially at the time of the commission of the crimes, its description of the group paints a picture of an over sized and well organized movement.

“In January 2008 (the Mungiki) was a large organization, capable of mobilizing thousands quickly when required…it had a hierarchical structure with a functioning chain of command.”

It will be noted that ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda released this brief a month after she withdrew the case against Kenyatta. Her move was read as a way of presenting the very case she was unable to push at a legal court before a public court.

The case against Kenyatta has since been terminated.

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