The 2007-2008 post-election violence victims have been dealt with a major blow after the sudden death of lawyer Paul Gicheru who was accused of bribing and intimidating prosecution witnesses in a prior International Criminal Court case against President William Ruto was found dead.
Gicheru had earlier this year pleaded not guilty to all eight counts of obstructing witnesses in the case against Ruto, who had been accused of taking part in violence after the Kenyan election of 2007 that resulted in more than 1,000 fatalities.
The tragic death of Gicheru, who was out on a Sh1 million bond and awaiting the outcome of his case at the International Criminal Court (ICC) Gicheru, 52, was discovered dead on Monday night at his house in Karen.
This, however, poses a concern over the fact that those affected will not get justice since the ICC does not convict or acquit the dead, as stated in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia’s case against Slobodan Milosevic, his case at The Hague is now closed.
The passing of Gicheru is the second among the participants in the “common scheme.” Meshack Yebei, a supporter of Gicheru, was kidnapped and assassinated in December 2015.
Later, his corpse was discovered in the Tsavo National Park. Yebei was also charged with attempting to influence witnesses in the trial of Joshua Arap Sang, a co-defendant of Ruto.
Gicheru, Silas Simatwo, and Isaac Maiyo were mentioned as the managers of the scheme, while Ruto was designated as the beneficiary by the ICC prosecution.
Maiyo served as the head of the Eldoret North Constituency Development Fund while Simatwo served as the director of Ruto’s Amaco Insurance firm. Previously, Ruto served as the district’s MP.
Yebei, journalist Walter Barasa, and Phillip Bett acted as go-betweens between the managers and the prosecution witnesses, according to the ICC.
The intermediaries’ tasks included “conveying threats of bad consequences” and “negotiating the amount and terms of bribes,” according to ICC records.
Both Barasa and Bett have a pending warrant for their arrest and it will be interesting to see how the ICC will proceed in seeking their handing over to The Hague.
Additionally, it implies that Ruto, who was disparaged throughout the Gicheru trial, is out of the woods for the time being.
Fatou Bensouda, the then-ICC Prosecutor, stated that the case had been damaged by the loss of witnesses and that this was due to meddling by participants in a common conspiracy.
The prosecution asserted that the defendant “served as the conduit for the distribution of the bribes to the corrupted witnesses and arranged for corrupted witnesses to sign affidavits recording their decisions to withdraw as prosecution witnesses” as the case came to a conclusion.
Gicheru is accused of coercing them into making untrue claims that damaged the prosecution’s case against Ruto and Sang.
According to the prosecution, the evidence against Gicheru “reveals a clear and consistent pattern of criminality” in which “Gicheru conspired with other members and associates of the common plan to locate, contact, and corruptly influence witnesses and potential witnesses in the Ruto and Sang case to withdraw and/or recant their evidence and cease all cooperation with the court,” they claimed.
The prosecution claimed that Gicheru specifically targeted a number of witnesses.
According to the prosecution, “all accepted the bribes offered and received payments of varied amounts, with the exception of P-0613 and P-0738. In exchange, they helped the offenders, including by signing affidavits that contained fabrications.
Additionally, some of the allegedly dishonest witnesses “went further and participated in furtherance of the common plot by corruptly influencing additional witnesses,” according to the allegations.
P-0800 and P-0397 “honestly admitted their responsibilities in achieving the interests of the common plan members,” the prosecution claims.
Finally, the prosecution requested that the court accept the P-0397 and P-0341 banking statements as “genuine and reliable payments” because they were “not in question at the time of submission regarding the authenticity or reliability of this evidence.”