Kenya: ICC Confirms Witness Tampering Charges Lawyer Paul Gicheru

Armed youths at the height of the post-election violence in 2008 (file photo).

Nairobi — The International Criminal Court Pre-Trial Chamber on Thursday confirmed charges against Kenyan Paul Gicheru ranging from offenses against the administration of justice and witness meddling.

Gicheru had been freed on a Sh1 million bond in January following his arrested after voluntarily turning himself in.

He will be allowed to travel back to Kenya once he meets the conditions set out by the court, including informing the court where travels to or resides at any given time.

"Today, 15 July 2021, Pre-Trial Chamber A (Article 70) of the International Criminal Court ("ICC" or the "Court") confirmed the charges of offenses against the administration of justice against Paul Gicheru and committed him to trial," the Hague-based court said.

The chamber led by Judge Reine Adélaïde Sophie Alapini-Gansou found that there were substantial grounds to believe that Gicheru committed witness tampering offenses aimed at undermining the Prosecution's case against Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua Sang which were vacated.

The court noted that Gicheru alongside other people allegedly identified, located, and contacted witnesses, offered and paid witnesses financial benefits in order to induce them to withdraw as Prosecution witnesses.

"The offenses were allegedly committed in the furtherance of a common plan implemented by a group of persons including Mr Gicheru, with the ultimate goal of undermining the Prosecution's case in the Ruto and Sang case," the court said.

The court further heard that through intimidation, the witnesses were forced to refuse or cease cooperating with the Prosecution and the Court, and to recant the evidence which they had provided to the Prosecution.

"Specifically, with relation to eight witnesses, Mr Gicheru and other members of the common plan allegedly identified, located, and contacted the witnesses, offered and/or payed them financial or other benefits, and/or threatened or intimidated them, in order to induce them to withdraw as Prosecution witnesses, refuse to or cease cooperating with the Prosecution and/or the Court, and/or to recant the evidence which they had provided to the Prosecution," the court added.

Gicheru surrendered to The Hague authorities in November 2020 after a five-year search alongside two others.

Ruto was facing charges in the ICC alongside President Uhuru Kenyatta, former Head of the Civil Service Francis Muthaura, former Police Commissioner Mohamed Ali, former Cabinet Minister Henry Kosgey and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang.

The famous 'Ocampo Six' were accused of murder, deportation or forceful transfer of population, persecution, rape, and other inhumane acts during the 2007 post-election violence that left more than 1,100 people dead.

The chaos erupted in December 2007 after then President Mwai Kibaki was announced the winner in a vote contested by Opposition chief Raila Odinga who claimed it had been rigged.

The two were later reconciled in an international mediation process that led to a power-sharing agreement ending the worst violence in the country's history.

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