Is ICC setting the stage for Ruto’s arrest?
By John Kamau, editor, thingira.org
Kenya is cagey on cooperation with the International Criminal Court (ICC) due to the mountain of evidence linking Deputy President William Ruto to witness interference in the case facing him and radio journalist Joshua Sang.
While terminating the case facing the duo, the judges were firm that witnesses were either, killed, intimidated or bribed, and hence left the room open for the prosecutor to reopen the case should there be new evidence.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, though has fallen out with Ruto, does not want to surrender him to the court but the mountain of evidence makes it hard for him not to do so.
Already, panic has hit Deputy President William Ruto’s camp after the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) admitted carrying out secret investigations on witness interference by tapping telephone conversations.
Ruto and his allies now fear the ICC is coming for him since when terminating the case against him and radio journalist Joshua Sang the judges gave room to the prosecutor to reopen it should new evidence emerge.
There are also fears some of the telephone conversations tapped by the prosecutor include that of Ruto with witnesses since in the analysis of mobile phone there is indication he (Ruto) was saved as a contact under a number he uses.
The ICC deputy prosecutor James Stewart told Trial Chamber III judge Maria Samba he would rely on 30 secretly recorded audios by witnesses in the case against lawyer Paul Gicheru, sending alarm bells in Ruto’s camp.
Stewart disclosed that after witnesses disowned their testimony in Ruto's case, the Office of the Prosecutor begun a probe which has been going on secretly.
The prosecutor added that the probe was carried out secretly in order to maintain security of the witnesses.
Though Gicheru has asked Judge Samba to erase the 30 audio recordings arguing they were secretly recorded by witnesses, chances of a ruling in his favour are remote.
What further sent alarm bell ringing in Ruto’s camp was the submission by Stewart that the audio recordings were telephone conversations of people who were involved in witness tampering and they were not taped in Kenya.
Those mentioned include Gicheru, Silas Kibet Simatwo and Isaac Maiyo, all close associates of the Deputy President.
The telephone conversations indicate they were in contact with slain witness Meshack Yebei, Philip Kipkoech and Bett Walter Barasa.
What is further worrying the Deputy President is the admission by Gicheru that Prosecution witness number 0397 and his 0800 counterpart were close friends of Ruto and they attended Kapsabet High School together.
They are fears Ruto might have talked directly with the two witnesses, which will be sufficient evidence he influenced them.
Simatwo was an influential Kenyan businessman and long-time business associate of Ruto and was “an eye of Ruto”.
Last week, Stewart stated majority of the recordings were collected six months before the trial started in September 2013 after the Office of the Prosecutor grew suspicious of witness interference.
Ruto, insiders revealed, is reading mischief since the the phone conversations were obtained illegally, through tapping and recording phone calls, and is now blaming the Deep State of forwarding the evidence to ICC so as to nail him.
Further, Ruto is worried that President Uhuru Kenyatta is more than willing to guarantee the ICC cooperation in tracing a missing witness key to the case, since the president would like to see him knocked out of the presidential race.
There was further panic in Ruto’s camp after the prosecutor asked the court to order the Kenyan government to help it in locating and availing the hostile witness who was scheduled to testify in the case against the Deputy President.
According to court documents, the prosecutor wants the witness, codenamed P-0743, to testify in the bribery case against Gicheru.
For Yebei, he was murdered when he was expected to testify in Ruto's case.
Stewart says Yebei was a member of a strategy group which was working on how to scuttle Ruto's case.
The prosecutor further says Gicheru corrupted witness in coordination with the Deputy President.
Earlier in a 122-page document, Stewart told the court Gicheru is individually criminally responsible for eight counts of corruptly influencing witnesses individually as a direct perpetrator or jointly with other members of a common plan as a direct co-perpetrator.
The Common Plan encompassed the identification, location and contacting of Prosecution Witnesses, and offering and/or paying them financial benefits or threatening or intimidating them, in order to induce them to withdraw as Prosecution Witnesses.
According to sources, Ruto now fears the prosecutor wants to charge him with corruptly influencing a witness under Article 70(1)c which could earn him five years for every count.
There is also a possibility that once summoned he will be detained at The Hague since the prosecutor will argue that releasing him on bail will see him interfere with witnesses.
Stewart further appeared to be keen to nail Ruto when he submitted that Simatwo and Maiyo, close allies of the Deputy President, made essential contributions by working with Gicheru to coordinate with Ruto while contributing to Prosecution Witnesses interference.
In some instances, Stewart submitted, they contacted Prosecution Witnesses telephonically in furtherance of the Common Plan.
He further stated the evidence establishes that the pattern of witness interference described below was conducted for the benefit of, and in coordination with, Ruto.
If Ruto is summoned and
detained at The Hague, his presidential ambitions will evaporate into thin air.