The seventh witness in the trial of lawyer Paul Gicheru said that poverty led him to agree to a Sh500,000 deal to recant his evidence against Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua Sang at the International Criminal Court.
Witness P-0516 told Trial Chamber II judge Maria Samba that his family was “poor of the poorest” and when a proposal was floated for him to recant his testimony in exchange for a kickback, he did not hesitate.
“Person number two told us he would show us a place. It is number two who took us to number 36. I agreed to that after he told me about the money,” the witness said.
However, on July 6, 2014, when he was scheduled to attend a meeting with court officials regarding his testimony, he failed to do so and cut off all communication.
He only attended the ICC court through summons during which he renounced his previous statements to the Office of The Prosecutor (OTP), which had implicated Ruto and Sang.
On February 18, 2013, in anticipation of his testimony in the case, P-0516’s identity was disclosed to the Ruto and Sang defence team.
Following his failure to appear, the trial court issued orders requiring him to be in court. He complied and gave his testimony between September 22 and 26, 2014.
He is alleged to have met lawyer Gicheru who gave him Sh500,000. “The evidence shows this recantation was the result of corrupt influence from Gicheru and his associates,” argued ICC deputy prosecutor James Stewart.
The prosecution said the late Meshack Yebei and P-0397 were tasked to hunt for P-0516. According to the prosecution, Gicheru, Yebei and P-0397 met in May 2013 in the lawyer’s office in Eldoret. It is alleged that Gicheru then asked the two to locate P-0516.
P-0397 told the prosecutors he and Yebei were paid to locate witnesses.
Initially, the witness told ICC investigators he could not recall whether the amount was Sh500,000 or Sh800,000.
The prosecution claims P-0516 visited Gicheru approximately four times. P-0516 told investigators that he and P-0397 could not refuse the money because otherwise “these people might come after us.”