John Khaminwa, the lawyer of Kenyan lawyer Paul Gicheru, who surrendered to authorities at Hague in the Netherlands early this week, has revealed that his client left the country quietly with no clue that he was turning himself in over arrest warrant issued against him by the International Criminal Court (ICC) five years ago.
The ICC issued a warrant of arrest against Gicheru in 2015 after claims of bribing witnesses in the failed case against Deputy President William Ruto and radio presenter Joshua Arap Sang. The two were charged with instigating violence after a disputed 2007 election when 1,200 people lost their lives. The crimes against humanity case was vacated in 2016.
According to Khaminwa, the lawyer who he claims to be of ill health did not call or request for a meeting to explain what he was up to.
The senior lawyer told the Standard that he learnt, just like everyone else, that Gicheru had flown out of the country.
“I have spoken to his wife in the Hague and they are fine. Paul Gicheru as I know him does not enjoy good health at all and I hope that authorities in Hague will not put him into custody. I know him as a client and he should continue to be free. I know they read your paper there,” Khaminwa said.
Khaminwa said Gicheru’s move came as a shocker as he had obtained orders from the High Court preventing any attempt to extradite him.
“I did not meet him at all. I obtained good orders for him, that he should not be extradited and that matter had ended and I am surprised. I am wondering why he surrendered. I was just surprised like everyone that he had gone to Amsterdam,” said Dr Khaminwa.
Yesterday, ICC announced that it had submitted a request to the Dutch authorities for the arrest and surrender of the lawyer to the court upon completion of the necessary national arrest proceedings.
However, ICC spokesman Fadi el Abdallah told the local media that Gicheru’s case is separate from the one on Ruto, given that he is to be charged with offences against administration of justice consisting corruptly influencing witnesses of the court.
“His case is separate from the previous one concerning Mr Ruto and the charges are established in the arrest warrant. He is naturally presumed innocent, and only the judges would establish if his case can go to a trial and if he is found guilty, what would be the appropriate sentence,” Abdallah said.
The judges in the ICC case had in 2016 ruled that the DP and his co-accused had no case to answer.
However, they left the door open for possible fresh charges in future if sufficient evidence is tabled, noting that the case had been hampered by political interference and threats against witnesses.
Gicheru faces a five-year jail term or a fine in accordance with the court’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence, or both if found guilty of committing crimes against administration of justice.