Paul Gicheru, the lawyer who appeared on record for Deputy President William Ruto in his case at the International Criminal Court (ICC), was put on trial at The Hague yesterday, as it emerged that the DP was aware of efforts to revive the case.
Early this year, Dr Ruto opened up about a scheme by a “cabal,” a term he used to describe as “a group of powerful people in government”, to restart the crimes against humanity cases at the ICC.
The Deputy President said he received the information from the country’s top spy Philip Kameru.
Obstruction of justice
“I had a discussion with the National Intelligence Service (NIS) Director-General late last year. For your information, there are people who have already sent characters to Kenya to resuscitate the ICC cases against me,” Dr Ruto said.
He added that the cabal was attempting to use unnamed people to revive the cases so as to stop him from becoming the country’s president in 2022.
Contacted yesterday, Dr Ruto’s spokesman David Mugonyi said he did not wish to comment on Mr Gicheru’s surrender to the ICC and the alleged plot to revive the case.
“If you are interested in what is happening, just listen to the DP’s interview with NTV,” Mr Mugonyi said.
Dr Ruto, together with President Uhuru Kenyatta and four other Kenyans, were hauled before the ICC over the 2007/8 post-election violence, but the cases collapsed.
The DP’s case was vacated with the court ruling that it had been made difficult due to interference of prosecution witnesses.
Before vacating the case, the ICC in May 2015 indicted Mr Gicheru alongside Mr Philip Bett alias Kipsengerya alias Kipsengerai and Mr Walter Barasa, saying their actions helped Dr Ruto and radio presenter Joshua arap Sang to escape justice.
In November 2017, the High Court stopped the government from extraditing Mr Gicheru and Mr Bett to The Hague – the Netherlands – to answer to the charges.
This was after the Interior Cabinet Secretary notified the principal judge of the High Court of the indictment and warrants of arrest against Mr Bett and Mr Gicheru and forwarded the accompanying documents as required under Section 29 and 30 of the International Crimes Act, 2008.
Legal representative of victims in the Ruto and Sang case Wilfred Nderitu, in an interview with the Saturday Nation argued that in an event that the next person who will succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta will create a conducive political environment for ICC, the case would remain a thorn in DP’s flesh.
He argued that if The Hague gets cooperation there are high chances that the suspended cases against Dr Ruto and Mr Sang will be revived because the court will have sufficient grounds to conduct fresh investigations.
“My expectation is that the person who becomes president in 2022 whether it is Dr Ruto or not, will take us to the cooperation and assistance that is required,” he said.
“It is going to be an interesting case, now that the President and his deputy are not reading from the same script.”
Mr Nderitu said the ICC depends on the political goodwill of member States, making it difficult to prosecute people holding political offices.
Mr Nderitu maintained that political goodwill is necessary because the summoning and processing of witnesses, issuing of passports and other documents, their travel arrangements and other related logistics operate within a political environment.
He said this could not happen during the trial of the President, his deputy, Mr Sang, Mr Henry Kosgei, Mr Mohammed Hussein Ali and Mr Francis Muthaura.
“The cooperation between Kenya and ICC was not at his best. It was not unusual to expect such a scenario when the country’s President and his deputy were facing charges,” Mr Nderitu said.
“Even if they wanted more cooperation, it could not happen. When I notice that my boss does not like something, it is an obstacle.”
““Those institutions which were to provide assistance to the ICC at the Executive level, might have feared because it was perceived that such kind of aid would not be liked by the President and his deputy,” Mr Nderitu added.
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