Lawyer moved to ICC detention at Dutch prison
Zadock Angira and Seth Mwaniki
Kenyan lawyer Paul Gicheru, who is accused of corruptly influencing witnesses of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the case against Deputy President William Ruto, was yesterday moved to detention at the Dutch Prison Complex.
Within three days of Gicheru’s surrender, the Hague-based court had accepted the move, arrested the lawyer, appointed a judge to preside over his case, moved him to a detention facility and arranged for his first appearance before the Pre-Trial Chamber.
Gicheru, a highly-connected advocate and chairman of the Export Processing Zone Authority (EPZA), surrendered to the court on Monday in unclear circumstances.
He was expected to appear before the court after his detention for the offences against the administration of justice, including corruptly influencing witnesses.
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, or in a different form, in light of new evidence.
Gicheru is expected to be detained at the ICC Detention Centre, located within a Dutch Prison Complex in Scheveningen, on the outskirts of The Hague.
“He was transferred today to the ICC custody after the completion of the necessary national arrest proceedings,” the ICC said in a statement. Immediately after the surrender, the ICC constituted a chamber of one judge to hear Gicheru’s case.
Judge Tomoko Akane, acting as the President of the Pre-Trial Division, constituted a chamber composed of one judge to exercise the powers and functions of the Chamber in the case of Gicheru.
“For these reasons, the President of the Pre-Trial Division hereby constitutes Pre-Trial Chamber A (Article 70) composed of Judge Reine Adélaïde Sophie Alapini-Gansou, to exercise the powers and functions of the Pre-Trial Chamber in the case,” Judge Akane ruled.
Speaking to People Daily yesterday, Wilfred Nderitu, the lawyer who represented victims in the Ruto case, attributed the speedy movement of Gicheru’s case to two possibilities.
“He could either be confident that he has a strong argument against the case around him and, therefore, wants it swiftly concluded or he wants to take a plea to allow him to bargain a deal with the prosecution before the hearings,” said Nderitu.
“For him to plea-bargain he must first take a plea and then negotiate for a lenient or less painful punishment.
If he accepts to have interfered with witnesses, it will have an effect on the main case, which could be re-opened for them to testify. He could also be a prosecution witness,” he added.
Speaking separately, Jubilee Party deputy chairman David Murathe dismissed claims that there were attempts by some forces in government to revive the ICC case against Ruto.
Murathe said President Uhuru Kenyatta had personally confided in him that he would not wish any person to suffer at the ICC as he did when he was hauled before the court to answer crimes against humanity charges.
“I have talked to the President several times and he has told me that he would not wish anyone, even his worst enemy, to go through what he experienced at ICC,” Murathe said.
He further said Gicheru was well-known to the Deputy President given that he (Ruto) trusted him to offer him legal services.
“The lawyer has been walking with an arrest warrant hanging over him and I am sure he has never been comfortable,” he said.
Murathe speculated the move to surrender could have been informed by Gicheru’s personal effort to clear his name at the ICC given there was an already existing warrant against him.
During the first appearance, the Pre-Trial Chamber is expected to confirm his identity and ensure he understands the specific charges.
The Chamber will also confirm the language in which the proceedings should be conducted, and set a date to begin the confirmation of charges hearing.
The arrest warrant against Gicheru and Philip Bett was issued under seal on March 10, 2015, and unsealed on September 10, 2015. However, Bett is yet to surrender to the ICC.
All suspects detained under the authority of the ICC are held at the Dutch Prison Complex described as safe, secure and humane.
At the detention centre, the ICC registrar is tasked with ensuring that the mental, physical and spiritual welfare of the detained persons is guaranteed.
The suspects are allowed access to fresh air, recreational time and sports activities.
“They have access to library books, news and television. Detained persons have access to computer facilities to work on their own cases. If needed, detained persons are given the opportunity of computer training,” the ICC says.