Court orders arrest of Kenyan over ICC bribing charge

NAIROBI Wed May 14, 2014 1:14pm EDT

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NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya's high court on Wednesday ordered the arrest of a journalist wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of trying to bribe witnesses in the prosecution of deputy president William Ruto.

Officials said a Kenyan hearing would now rule on whether to transfer reporter Walter Barasa to the global tribunal in the Hague - a decision that will test the East African country's commitment to the court.

Nairobi has in the past rallied African countries against the ICC, saying it has charged only Africans.

Barasa has dismissed accusations by ICC prosecutors that he offered money to prosecution witnesses to try and persuade them to withdraw testimony against Ruto.

Ruto and President Uhuru Kenyatta are facing charges at the ICC of orchestrating violence that swept Kenya after elections in late December 2007 and killed around 1,200 people. Both have denied any wrongdoing.

Kenya is bound by the Rome Statutes that establish the ICC, and is obliged to enforce arrest warrants issued by the court.

Barasa's lawyer, Kibe Mungai, said he would appeal against his client's arrest.

Barasa faces a fine, five years in prison or both if found guilty.

Kenyatta's case has been delayed after prosecutors said witnesses were not ready, but Ruto's case has been proceeding.

(Reporting by Humphrey Malalo; Writing by James Macharia; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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