Kenyan lawyer Paul Gicheru is set to make an initial appearance at the International Criminal Court (ICC) today (Friday, November 6).
Gicheru, who was transferred to the ICC’s custody on November 3 after surrendering himself to Dutch authorities on November 2, will appear before Judge Reine Adélaïde Sophie Alapini-Gansou of Pre-Trial Chamber A at 16:00 (The Hague local time) i.e. This is around 6 pm EAT.
“During the initial appearance hearing, the judge will verify the identity of the suspect and the language in which he is able to follow the proceedings. He will be informed of the charges against him and of his rights under the ICC Rome Statute,” says ICC.
The Hague-based court adds: “Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, this hearing will be held on a partially virtual basis. Mr. Gicheru will appear by video-link technology from the Court’s Detention Centre.”
Gicheru is suspected of offences against the administration of justice consisting of corruptly influencing witnesses, in a case where current President Uhuru Kenyatta, his deputy William Ruto and journalist Joshua Arap Sang’ were tried at the ICC over the 2007/2008 Post Election skirmishes.
The lawyer has been on the run for almost six years after the Pre-Trial Chamber II which was headed by Judge Ekatrina Trendafilova issued an arrest warrant against him on March 10, 2015.
A criminal scheme
ICC claims that there existed, from at least April 2013, a criminal scheme specifically designed to approach and corruptly influence witnesses of the Prosecutor through bribery and other incentives in exchange for either their withdrawal or recantation of their prior statements to the Prosecutor.
The court says Gicheru was the manager and coordinator of the said scheme, who ICC says “finalised agreements with corrupted witnesses, organised the formalisation of their withdrawal and handled the payment.”
Another Kenyan who is still at large, Philip Kipkoech Bett, who is not in ICC custody is suspected to have been the person who contacted witnesses and making initial proposals before bringing them to the managers, particularly Paul Gicheru.
According to the charges, ICC claims that witness P-397, for example, was promised Kes5 million in exchange of withdrawal as a witness of the Prosecutor.
“There is also information that those witnesses who were successfully corrupted were enticed to make contact with other witnesses, for the purpose of their corruption,” insists ICC.
The 2007/08 violence saw at least 1,300 Kenyans losing their lives, hundreds injured and more than 600,000 displaced.