The International Criminal Court (ICC) has summoned a witness who testified against Deputy President William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang to testify in the witness tampering case against lawyer Paul Gicheru.
Gicheru is set to stand trial from February 15 after the court confirmed six charges against him in July last year.
Kahawa Tungu understands that the prosecution summoned hostile witness P-0743 last week.
The Hague-based court asked an unnamed state to make arrangements for his appearance in the case and to coordinate his protection with the court’s Victims and Witnesses Unit.
The witness testified against Ruto and Sang in 2015. Later, they, however, cut communication with the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) despite having committed to helping the court in the case.
“Despite the prosecution’s use of all reasonable efforts at its disposal to locate or contact P-0723 to secure his voluntary attendance at the trial, he remained unreachable,” said Deputy Prosecutor James Stewart.
Apparently, the prosecution is working to ensure witnesses who no longer want to testify in the case at the Hague testify through videoconferencing.
The prosecution has lined up at least 12 witnesses in the case.
Among the witnesses are at least six Kenyans, who the prosecution says will tell the court how they were corruptly influenced by the lawyer to recant their testimony in the case against the two. The witnesses are P-0800, P-0536, P-0613, P-0341, P-0274, and P-0516.
Last year, Pre-Trial Chamber A, composed of Judge Sophie Alapini-Gansou stated that there is sufficient evidence that the accused tampered with prosecution witnesses through bribery and corruption in the case against Ruto and 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.
“Specifically, with relation to eight witnesses, Mr Gicheru and other members of the common plan allegedly identified, located, and contacted the witnesses, offered and/or paid them financial or other benefits, and/or threatened or intimidated them, in order to induce them to withdraw as Prosecution witnesses, refuse to or cease cooperating with the Prosecution and/or the Court, and/or to recant the evidence which they had provided to the Prosecution,” the court said adding that the suspect remains innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
Gicheru, who maintains he is innocent, surrendered to the Dutch authorities on November 2, 2020, five years after the ICC issued an arrest warrant against him and his co-suspect, Philip Kipkoech Bett. The arrest warrant was issued in March 2015.
The court released the suspect to Kenya on February 1, 2021, with restrictive conditions on his liberty.