Kenyan lawyer surrenders to ICC over witnesses tampering

Kenyan lawyer Paul Gicheru was wanted on an ICC arrest warrant dating from 2015 that accused him of trying to bribe six prosecution witnesses to recant testimony in the case against Kenyan Vice President William Ruto.

Kenyan lawyer surrenders to ICC over witnesses tampering

(The African Stand) — Kenyan lawyer Paul Gicheru has surrendered to the International Criminal Court. The Haque-based court disclosed that the Nairobi-based lawyer handed himself in Monday morning 5 years after an arrest warrant was issued against him alongside Philip Kipkoech Bett on the 10 March 2015.

Gicheru is wanted for allegedly committing offenses against the administration of justice consisting of corruptly influencing witnesses of the Court.

While consenting with the application made by the prosecutor to have Gicheru arrested, the then Pre-trial Chamber Two Judge Ekaterina Trendafilova, noted that there were “reasonable grounds to believe, that there existed, from at least April 2013, a criminal scheme designed to systematically approach and corruptly influence witnesses of the Prosecutor through bribery and other methods of inducements in exchange for their withdrawal as prosecution witnesses and/or recantation of their prior statements to the Prosecutor.”

Judge Ekaterina noted that there was evidence that the said scheme was run in an organised manner and with a clear distribution of tasks. And she said there was documentary evidence, including a number of witness statements and transcripts of interviews, official documents, and correspondence to support these claims.

“In particular, Paul Gicheru has been a manager and coordinator of the scheme, meaning that he has finalized agreements with corrupted witnesses, organized the formalization of their withdrawal, and handled the payment.” She stated in her determination

ICC records show that the role of Philip Kipkoech Bett was to contact the witnesses and to make initial proposals before bringing them to the managers, particularly Paul Gicheru. The evidence indicates that a similar role within the same scheme was exercised by another Kenyan, Walter Osapiri Barasa, a former journalist whom a warrant of arrest was also issued by the Court on 2 August 2013.

The judge noted that the influence of Gicheru was instrumental in getting Witnesses identified by the reference codes P-397, P-516, P-613, P-800, P-495, and P-536 to withdraw their statements and break their contact with the ICC.

On Witness P-397, for instance, Gicheru is said to have negotiated and agreed with the witness that Kshs.5 Million would be paid in exchange for the witness’s withdrawal as a witness of the Prosecutor.

“On 9 May 2013, Witness P-397 signed in the office and in the presence of Paul Gicheru an affidavit, stating that the witness no longer intended to testify and wished to withdraw the testimony previously given. Witness P-397 remained in contact with Paul Gicheru until at least January 2014.” Judge Ekaterina stated in her ruling

The issue of witnesses P-516, P-613, P-800, P-495, and P-536 took the same trajectory with the court indicating that each was paid between Kshs.1.5 million to Kshs.2.5 Million, with offers of employment opportunities, so as to recant their testimonies as far as 2007/2008 post-election chaos in Kenya is concerned.

Besides their arrest, the judge ordered the seizure of any relevant evidence, such as cell phones, computers or PDAs, diaries, address books, notes or records of meetings or conversations, financial or banking records and/or cash belonging to Gicheru and Bett which are on reasonable grounds believed to have been used in the said crimes.

The six witnesses had been lined up by the prosecutor to give testimonies in the case against Deputy President William Ruto which has since collapsed.

Johnny Mapesa

Written by Johnny Mapesa

Johnny Mapesa is an award-winning Kenyan journalist who is driven with passion and has worked for several media brands both locally and internationally and currently working with African Stand.

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