International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has revealed that Kenyan lawyer Paul Gicheru’s office landline was among various phone numbers used to call witnesses who had been lined up to testify against Deputy President William Ruto at the ICC.
In the new filing that was made public yesterday, the prosecutor also told the court that her office had interviewed Gicheru in September 2018, two years before he surrendered to Dutch authorities following a warrant of arrest issued against him in 2015 over alleged witness tampering.
In the interview, the prosecution says, Gicheru denied the charges against him but confirmed knowledge of phone numbers alleged to have been used in the scheme to tamper with witnesses.
“While he denied the charges and professed not to have had any dealings with the six witnesses named in the application, he did confirm various phone numbers alleged to have been used in the scheme, including his office landline,” the prosecution states.
According to the prosecution, the phone records also revealed the contacts he made with witness P-0397.
Bensouda made the revelations while opposing Gicheru’s bid to have the warrant of arrest against him lifted following his voluntary surrender on November 2, 2020.
The warrant of arrest was issued under seal against Gicheru and Philip Kipkoech Bett on 10 March 2015 and unsealed on 10 September 2015.
Gicheru and his co-accused, who is still at large, are accused of corruptly influencing witnesses leading to the collapse of the crimes against humanity case against Ruto and journalist Joshua Sang.
The two were charged with instigating violence after a disputed 2007 election when 1,200 people lost their lives. The case was vacated in 2016 over lack of sufficient evidence.
According to the prosecution, the trial of Ruto and Sang was terminated largely due to a witness bribery and statement recantation scheme for which Gicheru now stands accused.
While opposing the lifting of the warrant of arrest against Gicheru, Bensouda argues that she has evidence to believe the lawyer, who was granted conditional release pending hearing and determination of his case in February this year, wants to evade justice despite having turned himself in.
Besides the request to have the warrant of arrest against him lifted, Gicheru also wants the court to remove any restrictions that might prevent him from traveling to The Hague whenever required.
“The ultimate beneficiary of the scheme, William Samoei Ruto, is still the Deputy President of Kenya. Additionally, since the warrant was issued, Gicheru has been appointed to a senior position in a Kenyan State Corporation, providing reasonable grounds to believe that his ability to obstruct the prosecution’s investigations and any subsequent proceedings may in fact have increased,” the prosecution says.
The prosecution says it is arranging to interview a potential witness who is believed to have received payments from Gicheru based on evidence believed to have been obtained from his confiscated mobile phone.
Bensouda is also considering two additional counts of corruptly influencing a witness based on evidence retrieved from the phone.