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Ruto staring at witness interference charges at ICC

ICC deputy prosecutor James Stewart says lawyer Paul Gicheru corrupted witness in coordination with Deputy President William Ruto.

Ruto and radio presenter Joshua Sang were charged with six counts of crimes against humanity arising out of the post-election violence that followed the 2007 general election in Kenya.

In a 122-page document dated November 22, Stewart says 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.

"The ultimate goal of the Common Plan was to undermine the Prosecution case in the Ruto and Sang case by preventing Prosecution Witnesses," Stewart said.

Ruto risks being charged with corruptly influencing a witness under Article 70(1)c which could earn him five years for every count.

Stewart explained in detail that the Common Plan materialised by April 2013 and continued until at least the close of the Prosecution’s case in Ruto and Sang on September 10, 2015.

A timeline of key events relevant to the execution of the Common Plan, a relationship chart and a witness overview were annexed to the Prosecution’s written submissions on confirmation are and are incorporated in this Brief by reference.

Stewart said the members of the Common Plan consisted of a network of individuals associated-in-fact and acting jointly, at different levels, to realise the objectives of the Common Plan.

These individuals include managers: Gicheru, Silas Kibet Simatwo and Isaac Maiyo.

(ii) Intermediaries: between the Managers and Prosecution Witnesses, including Meshack Yebei,  Philip Kipkoech and Bett Walter Barasa.

The Managers consisted of a group of influential people associated with and/or supporters of Ruto at the relevant times.

Gicheru informed both P-0397 and P-0800 that he was a close friend of Ruto and that they had attended Kapsabet High School together.

An analysis of mobile phone indicates that Ruto was saved as a contact under a number**.

The same number has previously been attributed to Ruto by multiple sources.

Simatwo was an influential Kenyan businessman and long-time business associate of Ruto.

He was “an eye of Ruto”.

In order to implement the Common Plan, the members each provided essential contributions.

 Gicheru and other Managers were responsible for the essential tasks of directing and coordinating the activities of Common Plan Members.

They decided which Prosecution Witnesses should be targeted; negotiating and deciding how much they would be offered and/or paid.

They also ensured that the necessary finances were available to pay the Bribes agreed, or at least a portion thereof and intimidating Prosecution Witnesses with threats of adverse consequences if they failed to cooperate.

Stewart says Simatwo and Maiyo also made essential contributions by working with Gicheru to coordinate with Ruto.

They also contributed to Prosecution Witnesses interference.

In some instances, they also contacted Prosecution Witnesses telephonically in furtherance of the Common Plan.

"They acted as a link between the funders and/or beneficiaries of the Common Plan, including Ruto, and the Intermediaries and Associates," Stewart said.

Stewart said the evidence establishes that the pattern of witness interference described below was conducted for the benefit of, and in coordination with, Ruto.

"The Prosecution will establish beyond reasonable doubt that Paul Gicheru is guilty of the charges confirmed by Pre-Trial Chamber," he added.

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