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I was promised Sh10m to pull out of Ruto ICC case: Witness

Judge Miatta Maria Samba of Trial Chamber III at the opening of the trial in the Gicheru case at the ICC in The Hague (Netherlands) on 15 February 2022 [ICC-CPI]

A witness has testified how he was promised Sh10 million to withdraw from a case against Deputy President William Ruto at The Hague.

The witness told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that he was also promised six acres of agricultural land and a house if he agreed to write a letter notifying the ICC's Office of the Prosecutor that he was resigning from a list of witnesses against Dr Ruto and journalist Joshua arap Sang.

"I was even coached on what to say in the letter of resignation as a prosecution witness, and instructed on the person to hand it to after signing it. I did my part and handed the letter to the persons I was told,” he said.

The witness was testifying against lawyer Paul Gicheru who is facing charges of witness tampering in the Dr Ruto and Mr Sang case at the ICC.

He told the court that he had been under the ICC's protection but left the programme to return home briefly, where he was approached by three other witnesses who convinced him to pull out of the case.

According to the witness, he was visited at home by a person who was well known to him, and who was also on the list of witnesses against Dr Ruto but had withdrawn and recanted his testimony.

“I had read in the newspaper that he had withdrawn and when he came to see me, he asked me if I could join him in another location where we could look for money. He told me I would get a good reward if I agreed to resign as a witness,” he said.

They agreed on a date when they met two individuals identified in court as Person 7 and Person 19 who took them to a hotel where they cut a deal.

The witness stated that while at the hotel, they met with a politician after which he was instructed to write to the ICC and withdraw from the case.

“They gave me a lawyer who they said would help me draft the resignation letter. I cannot even remember what I said in the letter since it was them who coached me on what to say,” said the witness.

The witness told ICC Trial Judge Maria Samba that they agreed the Sh10 million would be paid through installments, and that all the payments would be in cash.

According to the witness, he was instructed not to deposit the money in a bank account to avoid raising the suspicions of ICC investigators.

The witness said he only received Sh2 million of the promised Sh10 million. “We even had a disagreement because the person said they had paid me Sh4 million when I was only paid Sh2 million in four installments of Sh500,000."

The witness said he received the first installment when they met at a place identified as Location 42 and another Sh500,000 when he visited Person 7 in his office.

He said the rest of the money was also paid in two transactions when he met Person 7 in a different location.

The hearing continues.