Two leading Kenyan presidential hopefuls are among four officials the International Criminal Court ruled on Monday should face trial over deadly post-election violence four years ago.

The Hague-based court said charges of crimes against humanity had been confirmed against William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta, son of the founding President, dropping a bombshell in Kenya's presidential campaign.

Mr. Ruto dismissed as “strange” allegations against him over the violence that erupted following a disputed 2007 presidential vote, killing more than 1,100 people and shattering Kenya's image as a beacon of regional stability.

“After having thoroughly examined all the evidence presented by the prosecution, the chamber decided to confirm the charges against four of the six suspects,” said ICC presiding judge Ekaterina Trendafilova.

“The chamber found that there are substantial grounds to believe Mr. [William] Ruto is responsible as an indirect perpetrator of the crimes,” she said before a public hearing held in The Hague.

“In regards to Mister... Kenyatta, the chamber was satisfied that the evidence established that there are substantial grounds to believe that [he is] criminally responsible of the alleged crimes, as an indirect co-perpetrator.”

They face five counts including orchestrating murder, rape, forcible transfer and persecution in the polls' aftermath.

What began as political riots soon turned into ethnic killings targeting Mr. Kenyatta's Kikuyu tribe.

This launched reprisal attacks in which homes were torched and people hacked to death in the worst outbreak of political violence since Kenya acquired independence from Britain in 1963.

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