The International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has asked Kenyan authorities to surrender two Kenyans wanted in the Hague-based Court for allegedly interfering with witnesses in the failed case against Deputy President William Ruto and radio presenter Joshua Arap Sang.
Bensouda made the appeal on Wednesday, November 4 2020, while welcoming the voluntary surrender of Kenyan lawyer Paul Gicheru who is facing similar accusations.
Walter Barasa, Philip Bett and Gicheru are facing charges of allegedly bribing six prosecution witnesses to recant their statements.
“The integrity of witnesses is essential for the Court’s determination of the truth. Within its means and mandate, my Office is committed to investigating and prosecuting individuals who attempt to pervert the course of justice by interfering with ICC witnesses, ” Bensouda said in a statement.
“Interfering with the attendance or testimony of ICC witnesses, or retaliating against them are serious crimes under Article 70 of the Rome Statute.”
ICC issued a warrant of arrest against Gicheru and Bett on March 10, 2015, after the prosecutor told the court that her office had reasonable grounds to believe that the two were “involved in an organized and systematic criminal scheme, aimed at approaching and corrupting six Prosecution witnesses, through bribes and other inducements, in exchange for withdrawing as witnesses and/or recanting their prior statements to the Prosecution.”
The court had also on August 2 issued a warrant of arrest against Barasa on charges of interfering with ICC witnesses, contrary to Article 70(1)(c) of the Rome Statute.
“…I call on the Kenyan authorities to fulfil their obligations under the Rome Statute to ensure the surrender of the remaining two suspects to the custody of the Court, so that their guilt or innocence on the charges against them may be determined in a court of law, ” the prosecutor added.
Ruto and Sang 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.
The judges in the ICC case 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.