Headache For DP Ruto As Trial Of Mr Gicheru Begins At ICC

Kenyan lawyer Paul Gicheru

The timing is bad news for the DP, who could well find himself summoned to the Hague again. The Chief Prosecutor at The ICC has written to Nairobi demanding that witnesses be allowed to travel to the Hague and testify

By The Weekly Vision Online

When all appeared to be going well on the political front for deputy president William Ruto in his quest to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta as President of Kenya, a fresh can of worms seems to have been kicked open at International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague.

As The Weekly Vision rightly predicted late in 2021, the trial of Kenyan lawyer Paul Gicheru has surely come at the worst possible time for Dr Ruto. Mr Gicheru had been on the run for years but surrendered to The ICC in 2020, honouring a warrant of arrest issued in 2016. He faces eight counts of witness tampering allegedly having been acting on behalf of Dr Ruto and journalist Joshua arap Sang. Gicheru is said to have spent up to Ksh. 30 million bribing witnesses to recant giving evidence.

The timing is bad news for the DP, who could well find himself summoned to the Hague again. The office of the Chief Prosecutor at The ICC has written to Nairobi demanding that witnesses be allowed to travel to the Hague and testify. Ruto appears to expect little help from his former lawyer British born Karim Khan who is now the chief prosecutor at The ICC. Mr Khan has since excused himself from the case facing his former client.

Developments at ICC sound like sweet music in the ears of Ruto’s main rival for the top job, former Prime Minister Raila Amolo Odinga. It’s worth noting that in 2012, Raila is said to have written to ICC asking judges to block Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto from contesting for any political seats in the 2013 elections. The two however contested and won in a closely fought election, still as ICC suspects.

ICC Deputy Prosecutor James Stewart said the case sends an important message about the court protecting its ability to mete out justice for atrocities committed around the world

 Many say if Raila Odinga wins the August poll among his immediate actions could be handing over whatever evidence there is or witnesses against Ruto to ICC. This has sent cold shivers down the spine of the DP’s Kenya Kwanza Alliance. A section within the two communities most affected by the post 2007/8 post-election violence, the Kikuyu and Kalenjin say they forgave each other and moved on accusing anti-DP elements of seeking to open old wounds. The DP camp is reading mischief in the Gicheru case. The lawyer is charged with bribing and threatening prosecution witnesses to withdraw their statements in the case that ultimately collapsed amid alleged widespread witness interference.

As his trial opened, Paul Gicheru pleaded not guilty to all eight counts of interfering with witnesses. Deputy Prosecutor James Stewart said the case sends an important message about the court protecting its ability to mete out justice for atrocities committed around the world.

“We seek to preserve and strengthen public confidence in the court and the expectations of those who look to the court to establish the truth and deliver justice,” Stewart said in his opening statement. “Those who would seek to undermine the court’s ability to provide redress for the victims of mass atrocities cannot be allowed to prevail. They must be held accountable.”

Prosecutors allege that Mr Gicheru was part of a group of co-conspirators that approached prosecution witnesses and offered them money to recant their evidence and withdraw from the case against William Ruto, now Kenya’s deputy president, and a broadcaster, Joshua Sang. ICC judges declared a mistrial in their case in 2016. “The most egregious and damaging instance of such witness interference with the accused Paul Gicheru allegedly at its centre commenced in early 2013 and continued throughout the trial,” Stewart said.

Mr Ruto and Sang were among a group of Kenyans, including President Uhuru Kenyatta, charged with involvement in the violence that erupted after a disputed presidential election in 2007, leaving more than 1,000 dead and forcing 600,000 others from their homes. Charges against all the Kenyans were ultimately dropped.

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