Gicheru’s D-Day at The Hague court

Friday, November 6th, 2020 00:00 |
Lawyer Paul Gicheru’s surrender to the ICC has baffled politicians. Photo/PD/File

Lawyer Paul Gicheru who surrendered to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Monday, is expected to appear before the Pre-Trial Chamber at The Hague today.

The ICC yesterday ordered Gicheru’s initial appearance to be convened at 4pm.

However, due to Covid-19 restrictions, the court ordered the hearing to be held on a partially virtual basis.

“Gicheru will appear in a video-link technology from the Court’s Detention Centre,” ICC said.

During the session, his identity will be confirmed and the court will also ensure he understands the charges.

Though details about his surrender remain scanty, sources told People Daily yesterday that the highly-connected advocate and chairman of the Export Processing Zone Authority, left Nairobi on Sunday night using a KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, flight number KL566.

The flight was scheduled to depart Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) at 11.59pm but was delayed for about 10 minutes.

Gicheru arrived in Amsterdam, Netherlands, a few minutes past 6am on Monday and later surrendered to the ICC.

Travel permission 

It has also emerged that some senior government officials were aware of his plans, and cleared him to travel out of the country.

Gicheru, who is accused of corruptly influencing witnesses in the ICC case against Deputy President (DP) William Ruto, surrendered to the court on Monday and was moved to a detention at the Dutch Prison Complex the following day.

The court appointed a judge to preside over the case.

Judge Tomoko Akane, acting as the President of the Pre-Trial Division, constituted a chamber composed of one judge -Judge Reine Adélaïde Sophie Alapini-Gansou, to exercise the powers and functions of the Chamber in Gicheru’s case.

In Kenya, Ruto’s allies have maintained the lawyer’s surrender was a scheme by high ranking government officials to revive the DP’s ICC case to prevent him from vying for the presidency come 2022.

Gicheru’s surrender to The Hague was not expected and even his lawyer John Khaminwa said he was not aware of the move.

It, however, remains unclear whether Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda is ready to revisit the Kenyan cases after independent experts concluded the trials were messed up by her predecessor Luis Moreno Ocampo. There were reports that the cases were bungled during investigations.

Gicheru is likely to be released to argue his case away from the detention centre, with experts saying the fact that he voluntarily surrendered may work  in his favour.

Others say the court’s subsequent action will depend on what Gicheru will tell the judge.

Gicheru is to be charged with offences against the administration of justice, including corruptly influencing witnesses of the Court.

Ruto and radio journalist Joshua Sang’s charges were vacated on April 5, 2015, without prejudice to the prosecution bringing a new case in the future, in light of new evidence.

The arrest warrant against Gicheru and Philip Kipkoech Bett was issued under seal on March 10, 2015, and unsealed on September 10, 2015. However, Bett is yet to surrender to the ICC.

Voluntary surrender

All suspects detained under the authority of the ICC are held at the detention centre described as safe, secure and humane.

At the detention centre, the ICC Registrar is tasked with ensuring the mental, physical and spiritual welfare of the detained persons is guaranteed.

Suspects are allowed access to fresh air, recreational time and sports activities.

Bensouda has since welcomed Gicheru’s “voluntary” move and called for the surrender or arrest of Bett and former journalist Walter Osapiri Barasa against whom warrants of arrest have been issued for allegedly interfering with witnesses in the Ruto case.

“I welcome the news of Gicheru’s voluntary surrender and transfer to the custody of the International Criminal Court,” said Bensouda in a statement issued on Wednesday night.

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