Lawyer Paul Gicheru who is facing charges relating to the 2007 post-election violence at the International Criminal Court(ICC) was reported dead on Monday night.
The lawyer’s death is believed to have been a result of food poisoning since his son was also affected and is currently undergoing treatment in hospital.
The lawyer is accused of interfering with witnesses in the crimes against humanity case that the current Kenya’s president William Ruto and former Kass FM journalist Joshua Arap Sang were facing at The Hague. The interference saw key witnesses in the case withdraw from the case, others mysteriously disappeared while others disowned their previously recorded statement on the matter.
In 2015, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda named Gicheru as the person responsible for witness interference and a warrant of arrest was issued against him as well as lawyer Philip Kipkoech Bett. Gicheru however moved to the Kenyan High Court to block his arrest by ICC and his wish was granted.
In November 2020 Gicheru surprisingly surrendered himself to The Hague over the witness interference matter thus allowing the case trial to kick off. He was facing 16 counts of charges. He did not inform anyone that he was heading to the Hague.
During pre-trial, the court was informed that Gicheru’s role in the witness interference plot was to finalize the process. Apparently, he was not in charge of approaching witnesses directly.
“In this case, 17 witnesses who had agreed to testify against the Accused subsequently withdrew their cooperation with the Court. Prosecution witnesses, in this case, were subjected to intimidation, social isolation, and threats to prevent them from testifying. In the end, the Trial Chamber was in effect prevented from having the opportunity to assess the true merits of the Prosecution case,” part of Bensouda’s statement read.
Gicheru denied the charges that were leveled against him saying that they were false. The court however established that there was sufficient evidence to prove interference of 8 witnesses.
In the instance of the first witness, Gicheru is said to have bribed him with Kshs5 million which was paid in installments. He also threatened him and made him sign an affidavit agreeing to withdraw from the case. He tasked him with finding another witness to influence him as well. The first witness was to provide evidence regarding election violence in Turbo and a series of meetings leading to the post election violence whereby Ruto and other ODM members are said to have used for incitement.
Gicheru used witnesses to influence and get to other witnesses. He reportedly questioned one of the witness the identities of the other witnesses in the case against Ruto.
The rest of the witnesses were also offered money ranging from half a million to Kshs5 million. There are those who were promised cars, houses and pieces of land in addition to the money after they agreed to withdraw from the case and sign the affidavits before lawyers. Some said that they were only given money while the other ‘goodies’ remained a dream.