Deputy President William Ruto could face fresh charges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) after the prosecution claimed to have evidence implicating him in witness influencing scheme in the failed case against him.
The prosecution was recently allowed to transfer part of the evidence extracted from the vacated case against Ruto and use it against lawyer Paul Gicheru who is accused of influencing witnesses of the court between April 2013 and September 10, 2015.
The witness tampering, the prosecution says, sabotaged the case against Ruto and radio journalist 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 for lack of sufficient evidence linked to “political meddling”.
The ICC judges declined to acquit the duo, leaving open the possibility that charges could again be brought against either defendant.
In the latest brief signed by Deputy Prosecutor James Stewart and submitted on November 22, the prosecution says, “the evidence establishes that the pattern of witness interference was conducted for the benefit of, and in coordination with, William Samoei Ruto.”
It’s the first time ICC prosecutors have named Ruto as the coordinator of the witness tampering plan.
Those indicated include Gicheru and co-accused Walter Barasa and Philip Bett. The two suspects are still at large.
Gicheru is alleged that between April 2013 and January 2014 Gicheru offered a witness (P-0397) Ksh5 million to withdraw as a witness. Gicheru is said to have finally paid witness (P-0397) Ksh1 million to withdraw in the case against Ruto and Sang. The witness was also to provide contact to another witness P-0516 for the same.
Gicheru also offered witness P-0495 a similar amount to withdraw as a witness, the prosecution says.
Another female witness, P-0536, was allegedly offered between Ksh1.4 million and Ksh1.6 million to withdraw as a witness.
Gicheru is also accused of offering a witness (P-0341) Ksh5 million, and paying him between Ksh1 million and Ksh2million for him to refuse to become a witness if asked to.
The prosecution claims Gicheru intimidated witness P-0341 between May 9 and July 19, 2013 and asked him to draft a handwritten affidavit.
“He said Ruto had requested this second document. Mr Gicheru instructed P-0341 to write that he had no evidence against Ruto and that he was withdrawing from the ICC proceedings,” the papers say.
P-0341 is said to have complied because he was afraid for his family if he refused.
“A couple of days later, Gicheru informed P-0341 that Ruto was pleased when he received the affidavit, and had instructed Gicheru to give P-0341 more money,” the court papers say.
According to the court papers, Gicheru remarked before P-0274 that “they” preferred to pay witnesses to make them stop assisting the ICC.
The suspect allegedly said they needed to reach everyone involved in the case, and that the Mkubwa (big man), which P-0274 understood to mean Ruto, “wanted no stone left unturned”.
It’s said Gicheru preferred paying the witnesses in cash to avoid bank records. To further hide his tracks he also refused to record agreements with the corrupted witnesses in writing.
Ruto now risks being charged with corruptly influencing witnesses, a time when he is focused on campaigning to become Kenya’s next president.