Kenya church massacre survivors ask court to stop talks

Survivors of a church massacre in Kenya head to court to block the former head of the UN, Kofi Annan, from the mediation efforts.
Jan 25, 2008 08:50 AM EST

Survivors of a church massacre in Kenya went to court on Friday to try to stop former UN boss Kofi Annan leading mediation efforts and said some participants in the talks were guilty of human rights abuses.

About 700 people have died in ethnic clashes and riots since President Mwai Kibaki's disputed re-election at December 27 polls.

In the worst single incident, 30 members of Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe were killed on January 1 by a mob who set fire to the church where they had sought shelter near Eldoret in the Rift Valley.

Thirty-seven survivors, many of whom suffered severe burns in the attack, appealed to the High Court in Nairobi on Friday.

"We want Kofi Annan restrained from continuing with peace talks since some of the people he is involved with ... have influenced the violence," they said in their lawsuit.

It was not immediately clear when the court might rule on their petition.

Annan on Thursday brought Kibaki and his rival, opposition leader Raila Odinga, together for their first private talks on how to end the crisis.

But hopes for a solution were dampened as both sides launched a fresh round of verbal recriminations, and ethnic clashes centred on another Rift Valley town, Nakuru, killed at least a dozen people.

© Reuters 2008. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters.