Kenyan lawyer Gicheru surrenders to ICC

Wednesday, November 4th, 2020 00:00 |
Lawyer Paul Gicheru’s surrender to the ICC has baffled politicians. Photo/PD/File

Kenyan lawyer, Paul Gicheru surrendered to International Criminal Court (ICC) yesterday, in compliance with an arrest warrant issued in 2015 over accusations of corruptly influencing witnesses.

The warrant of arrest was issued under seal against Paul Gicheru and Philip Kipkoech Bett on March 10, 2015 and unsealed on September 10 the same year.

Gicheru and Bett are both accused of corruptly influencing witnesses in the ICC case against Deputy President William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang.

 “On November 2, Paul Gicheru surrendered to the authorities of The Netherlands pursuant to this arrest warrant for offences against the administration of justice consisting in corruptly influencing witnesses of the Court,” the ICC said in a statement yesterday.

However, the court said Bett is not in ICC custody. 

According to ICC, the court submitted a cooperation request to the Dutch authorities for the arrest and surrender of Gicheru to the Court upon completion of the necessary national arrest proceedings.

Criminally responsible

The court said Gicheru is criminally responsible as a direct co-perpetrator for solicitation and inducement, of the crime of corruptly influencing a witness, code named P-397 by paying Sh1 million and by offering to pay the witness Sh5 million in order to influence the witness to withdraw as a prosecution witness, committed from April 2013 to January 2014 and in Eldoret.

The court also stated that Gicheru was criminally responsible as a direct co-perpetrator for solicitation and inducement, of the crime of corruptly influencing a witness, by offering or paying another code named Witness P-516, a bribe of at least Sh500,000 in order to influence the witness to withdraw as a Prosecution witness, committed in April and May 2013 and in Eldoret.

 “Pre-trial chamber II orders the Registrar to prepare, in consultation and coordination with the Prosecutor, and transmit a request for cooperation to relevant State to take appropriate measures for the body/personal search of Paul Gicheru and Philip Kipkoech Bett and any premises where they may be arrested, their residences at the time of their arrests, and any such offices utilised by them,” read an ICC statement issued on March 10, 2015.

In the statement, ICC directed 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 or cash which are, on reasonable grounds, believed to be used in, connected with, or to provide evidence of, the offences for which the warrants of arrest were issued.

Ruto and Sang’s charges were however vacated on April 5, 2015, without prejudice to prosecution bringing a new case in the future, or in a different form, in light of new evidence. Their case was vacated six years after the trial commenced.

Trial Chamber V(a) decided, by majority, with Judge Herrera Carbuccia dissenting, that the case against Ruto and Sang be terminated but stated that the decision is subject to appeal.

A majority of judges, namely Chile-Eboe Osuji and Robert Fremr however stated in a 253-page document, that the decision does not preclude new prosecution in the future either at the ICC or in a national jurisdiction.

The Chamber considered the requests of Ruto and Sang that they find there is ‘no case to answer’, dismiss the charges against both accused and enter a judgment of acquittal.

“The proceedings are declared a mistrial due to a troubling incidence of witness interference and intolerable political meddling...the charges are hereby vacated and the accused are discharged from the process, without prejudice to their presumption of innocence or the Prosecutor’s right re-prosecute the case at a later time,” said the then presiding Judge Osuji.

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