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All set for Gicheru trial at ICC

All set for Gicheru trial at ICC

By Justus Karanja

The International Criminal Court (ICC) will today (Tuesday) at 11.30am The Hague time open the trial of Kenyan lawyer Paul Gicheru accused of interfering with witnesses in the collapsed case facing Deputy President William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua Sang.

Gicheru, who surrendered himself to the ICC, is accused of corruptly influencing witnesses in the case against Ruto and Sang which was dismissed in 2016 due to insufficient evidence. 

The ICC believes Gicheru committed offences against the administration of justice in order to undermine the Prosecution’s case against Ruto and the then KASS Radio presenter, Sang. 

The ICC issued an arrest warrant against lawyer Gicheru and Philip Kipkoech Bett on March 10, 2015.

Prosecution says the two were involved in an organised and systematic criminal scheme, aimed at approaching and corrupting Prosecution witnesses through bribes and other inducements, in exchange for their withdrawal as witnesses and/or recantation of their prior statements to the Prosecution.

The hearing will proceed for four sessions starting today, at Courtroom 111 at 11:30 The Hague time.

It will continue on Wednesday, February 16, Thursday, February 17 and Friday, February 18.

The court will take a break until Monday, February 21, when the hearing will continue.

The case also initially involved charges against Philip Kipkoech Bett. The case against the latter was severed from the case against Gicheru on 11 December 2020.

 On 2 November 2020, Gicheru surrendered to the authorities of The Netherlands pursuant to the arrest warrant for offences against the administration of justice consisting in corruptly influencing witnesses of the Court.

On 3 November 2020, Gicheru was surrendered to the ICC custody after the completion of the necessary national proceedings. 

 The first appearance of Gicheru before the Court took place on 6 November 2020.

On 11 December 2020, Pre-Trial Chamber A severed the cases against Gicheru and Philip Kipkoech Bett. 

On 1 February 2021,  Gicheru was released to Kenya with specific conditions restricting liberty, during the confirmation of charges proceedings.

On 15 July 2021, ICC Pre-Trial Chamber A confirmed the charges of offences against the administration of justice brought by the Prosecutor against Gicheru and committed him to trial.

In its decision, the Chamber found that there are substantial grounds to believe that Gicheru committed, as a co-perpetrator, or under alternative modes of liability, offences against the administration of justice between April 2013 and the closure of the William Ruto and Joshua Sang case on 10 September 2015, in Kenya.

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

On 30 September 2021, Trial Chamber III scheduled the opening of the trial against Gicheru for 15 February 2022.

If Gicheru in convicted, it will give leeway for the reopening of the case against Ruto and Sang.

This is because when the judges terminated the charges, they cited witness interference as one of the major factors for their decision.

They also left the room open for the prosecution to reopen the case should there be new evidence.

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