Deputy President Ruto face jail term in the Hague after fresh evidence emerges

DP William Ruto

The ICC has allowed prosecutors to transfer part of the evidence extracted from the vacated case facing Ruto and use it against Gicheru

By The Weekly Vision Online

Instead of winning Kenya’s 2022 presidential elections and becoming Kenya’s 5th president, Deputy President William Ruto could be staring at a long stretch behind bars! That is if the recent developments at the ICC Hague court are anything to go by. ICC judges have adduced fresh evidence against Ruto lawyer Paul Gicheru. The evidence alleging bribery and coaching of witnesses has opened a fresh can of worms. This at a time Kenya 2022 transition election campaigns have intensified.

Gicheru surrendered to the Hague court in late 2020 after being on the run since 2019 when ICC issued a warrant of arrest against him. He is accused of bribing 8 key witnesses who recanted evidence against Ruto. The cases then collapsed for lack of evidence. Gicheru has admitted to bribing up to 8 key witnesses who recanted their video evidence. The Hague court accuses the lawyer of spending up to Kshs 20.4m in bribes to key witnesses.

The ICC has allowed prosecutors to transfer part of the evidence extracted from the vacated case facing Ruto and use it against Gicheru. Judge Miatta Maria Samba also directed the prosecution to inform the defence on the nature of the protective measures concerning witnesses mentioned in the case against Dr Ruto and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang.

The evidence in Gicheru’s case that will be treated with confidentiality is said to be damaging to Kenya’s second in command. It is said to be showing a detailed trail of cash transfers from Ruto’s allies to key witnesses. Ruto’s only consolation has been that his lead counsel in the 2014-2016 cases Karim Khan has since been appointed ICC chief prosecutor. But it remains unclear why Khan allowed the new evidence in Gicheru’s case. The case against the lawyer will be heard in early 2022. This will be a critical time for Kenya election campaigns as the country prepares for its 5th transition.

Many Ruto top aides are reading mischief in the ICC move describing its timing as “suspect” adding that Gicheru was a “hiring” directed to sabotage the DP’s campaigns for the presidency. Mr Gicheru is accused of tampering with witnesses in the case facing Dr Ruto and Mr Sang.

The prosecution says it can prove that the lawyer offered Sh20.4 million as bribes to eight witnesses on behalf of Ruto and Sang so as to collapse their cases. Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy Ruto faced abuse of human rights charges linked to deadly 2007-08 post-election violence that followed bungled presidential election results. The violence claimed 1350 lives some including women and children burnt alive at a church. The mayhem also displaced 650,000 as homes and property worth billions went up in smoke.

But the cases collapsed one after another 2015-2016 as witnesses “mysteriously” recanted evidence while others went missing. The ICC presents a fresh headache for Ruto a front runner in Kenya’s 2022 election with his closest challenger being former prime minister Raila Odinga. Odinga, 77, has contested the presidency a record 4 times and in 2007 all but defeated incumbent President Mwai Kibaki, 90.

While Kibaki-Raila went on to share power in a political truce brokered by former UN secretary-general Koffi Annan (rip), ICC indicted Uhuru, Ruto, and three others. Kenyatta became the first serving African head of state to face ICC trial 2014-2015. The cases solidified the Uhuruto political alliance that won the hotly contested 2013 polls. They again won the 2017 poll but the supreme court overturned Uhuru’s victory and ordered a repeat.

The court chaired by now-retired chief justice David Maraga agreed with the NASA petition filed by Raila Odinga that the poll was riddled with “irregularities and illegalities” as to make its outcome neither free nor fair, but “null and void”.

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