New witness drags Ruto name into ICC trial again

Tuesday, March 1st, 2022 04:22 | By
The Hague-based Court during a session yesterday. Photo/Courtesy

Deputy President William Ruto’s name once again surfaced yesterday in the trial of lawyer Paul Gicheru as the ‘Big Man’ who was behind the bribing of ICC witnesses.

The fourth witness in the trial of the Kenyan lawyer told the international court yesterday that Gicheru had explained to him that ‘mkubwa’  wanted no stone left unturned in the case.

“Gicheru told me that mkubwa wants no stone left unturned in this issue and it was the reason he wanted me to assist in finding other witnesses,” witness P-0274 told the court.

“And who did you understand mkubwa was,?” asked the prosecution.

“I understood mkubwa as William Ruto because the ICC case was against him,” he told the court.

Gicheru is facing eight counts relating to corruptly influencing witnesses regarding cases from Kenya.

According to the witness, he was introduced to Gicheru by a person referred to as person 14, who was also one of the ICC witnesses in the trial of Deputy President Ruto.

According to the witness, person 14, was his close friend and they used to meet several times.

“The person was also a victim and he was a close friend ... he told me that he met Gicheru and received Sh500,000 so that he would not participate in the ICC case and he wanted me to join and get money too,” the witness told the court.

Trial judge Miatta Maria Samba heard that when the witness went to meet Gicheru, he asked for his name and later told him that his name was familiar. He promised to give him Sh500,000 to stop being a witness in the  Ruto case in the ICC.

“He told me that he was helping person 14 and he told me ‘that is how we do it’ …. he said would give me some money to stop being a witness in the ICC and also wanted me to show him, other witnesses,” the witness told the court.

The court heard that Gicheru gave him Sh10,000 transport money and handed him a piece of paper with his mobile phone number which he was to use to contact him.

The witness testified that a few days after the meeting, Gicheru contacted him by the same phone number he had given him and gave him an offer of Sh500,000.

“I was willing to take the offer because of my safety… I thought at that time if I go to the other side, I will be safe, and the person no 14 explained to me how he was given Sh500,000 and he told me that the others had received Sh500,000 each ... The other people were perceived to be persecutors, so I feared and took the offer,” he told the court.

The witness said, however, that he did not stop participating in ICC engagements and did not bring other witnesses because that was to be done after he received the money.

The court heard that person 14, who introduced the witness to Gicheru, received the money in a hotel.

The money was brought by a police officer who claimed to have been sent by Gicheru.

The witness claimed that he started receiving threatening messages after he declined to meet Gicheru in one of the meetings.

“The witness received a threatening text message saying that “they” knew he was giving information to the ICC about their elder and knew where he lived. The witness changed his (phone) number and did not interact with Gicheru again,” reads the prosecution’s document.

The witness further told the court that person 14 had told him, he had taken two people to see Gicheru.

He also revealed that once in Gicheru’s office, he saw a journalist based in Eldoret identified as person 2 leaving Gicheru’s office.

“Did you speak to him or did you have any interaction with him,?” asked the prosecution

“No, I did not. He was outside at the reception; I  doubt he saw me. I saw him talking to another person ... many people were coming out and going in. He came out of the office when I entered,” he said.

Coordinated scheme

In the opening remarks, the ICC prosecution team told the court that they would prove that Gicheru managed and coordinated a scheme to identify, locate and corruptly influence actual and potential prosecution witnesses in the trial of Deputy President William Ruto and Joshua Sang.

Ruto and his co-accused, broadcaster Sang, were charged with fomenting ethnic violence after a disputed 2007 election in which 1,200 people died. “The actions of the accused and his associates led directly to the withdrawal and recounting of no less than four vital prosecution witnesses in the case,” Prosecution Counsel Steward told the international court.

William Ruto was mentioned as the mastermind of the witness bribery scheme by some witnesses that the prosecution would rely on.

The case continues today with cross-examination.

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