Two of the men accused of masterminding post-election violence in Kenya in 2007 will likely stand trial next March at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague, prosecutors and lawyers have said.
The March 2013 trial date for former minister William Ruto, 45, and radio boss Joshua Arap Sang, 36, was tentatively agreed upon during a hearing on Monday at the ICC.
"Both the defence teams have submitted March 2013 for the start of the trial date," said Florence Darques-Lane for the prosecution at a hearing before the court.
"The prosecution has no objection to setting a trial date at such time," Darques-Lane said.
Ruto's lawyer David Hooper added: "We concur with March of next year."
Judge Kuniko Ozaki said a ruling on the trial date will be made before the start of the court's summer recess on July 14.
The two men are part of the so-called "Ocampo Four", which also includes current deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, and Francis Muthaura, the former head of the public service.
The four will be tried for crimes against humanity for organising attacks on ruling party supporters after disputed polls five years ago.
On Tuesday, The Hague-based court is to discuss a trial date for Muthaura and Kenyatta.
Although the ICC trial is likely to commence, Ruto and Kenyatta have both announced their plans to run for president in Kenya in elections scheduled for March 4, 2013.
Ruto and Sang face three counts of murder, forcible transfer and persecution relating to attacks by members of the opposition Orange Democratic Movement against ruling Party of National Unity supporters.
Kenyatta, who is one of the country's richest men and the son of its founding president, Jomo Kenyatta, stands accused of murder, forcible deportations, persecution, rape and other inhumane acts against supporters of Prime Minister Raila Odinga after the election. All four men say they are innocent.
Violence shattered Kenya's image as a regional beacon of stability when then opposition chief Raila Odinga accused former president Mwai Kibaki of rigging his way to re-election following the December 2007 polls.
What began as political riots, quickly turned into ethnic killings of Kenyatta's Kikuyu tribe, who in return launched reprisal attacks, plunging Kenya into its worst wave of violence since independence in 1963.
More than 1,200 people died during the violence.
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|Timothy V. Gatto|