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Lawyer Paul Gicheru appears at ICC Chamber, says he will deny all charges

KENYA
By Betty Njeru | November 6th 2020

Lawyer Paul Gicheru appeared at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague Friday evening, and told court that he would deny all charges against him.

“I do not intend to admit the charges under Article 65. The allegations read out to me are not true. They are false. All six of them are false,” Gicheru told Court.

Gicheru (pictured) is suspected of corruptly influencing court witnesses in Kenya in 2013, and committing offences against the administration of justice.

Gicheru who is appearing for the first time before Pre-Trial Chamber Judge Reine Adelaide Sophie Alaphini-Gansou, is representing self.

The lawyer is being charged with six counts of corruptly influencing witnesses.

The charges read to him on Friday:

Count One- “Corruptly influencing a witness by offering to pay Sh5m to a witness to withdraw his statement, offence committed at Eldoret, Kenya.”

Count Two- “Corruptly influencing a witness by offering a Sh500,000 bribe in order to influence the witness to withdraw as a prosecution witness- offence committed in Eldoret, Kenya between April and May 2013.”

Count Three- “Corruptly influencing a witness by offering a bribe in order to influence a witness to withdraw as a prosecution witness- offence committed between April and May 2013.”

Count Four- “Corruptly influencing a witness by offering a bribery payment of between Sh1m to Sh2m in order to influence the witness to withdraw as a prosecution witness- offence committed at Eldoret, Kenya in July 2013.”

Count Five- “Corruptly influencing a witness- that Mr Giheru is responsible as a direct perpetrator by offering a bribery of Sh2.5 million in exchange of the witnesses’ withdrawal in September 2013.”

Count Six – “That Mr Gicheru being a direct perpetrator for solicitation/inducement of bribing a witness with payment of at least Sh1 million- offence committed from May-August 2013.”

During the initial appearance, the lawyer who surrendered to Dutch authorities on Monday said he did so out of free will.

“It was a voluntary surrender, there was no threat nor coercion,” Mr Gicheru said.

When informed about his rights, Gicheru said: “I have understood the alleged offences with which I have been charged.”

He also added that he had no complaints on the condition of treatment while in holding and that he has been treated well so far.

Pre-Trial Chamber Judge Reine Adelaide Sophie Alaphini-Gansou. [Standard]

Pre-Trial Chamber Judge Sophie Alaphini-Gansou said she would give parties time to prepare themselves factoring in the ongoing health crisis and nature and scope of this case.

The pre-trial chamber has set February 12, 2021 as the date of filing of the document containing the charges, which could be postponed at the request of the Prosecutor or the Defense.

According to the Prosecution, Friday’s hearing was neither a trial nor a confirmation of charges against the accused.

Gicheru arrived at the ICC detention centre in The Netherlands on Tuesday, following his voluntary surrender a day earlier, and five years after an arrest warrant was issued in 2015, together with his co-accused Philip Bett who was not in court today.

“The warrant of arrest was issued under seal against Paul Gicheru and Philip Kipkoech Bett on March 10, 2015 and unsealed on September 10, 2015. On November 2, 2020, Paul Gicheru surrendered to the authorities of The Netherlands pursuant to this arrest warrant for offences against the administration of justice consisting in corruptly influencing witnesses of the Court. Philip Kipkoech Bett is not in ICC custody,” a statement from the ICC read.

According to his personal lawyer John Khaminwa, Gicheru left the country quietly leaving no clue that he was turning himself in to the Dutch police.

Lawyer Paul Gicheru appears during the initial hearing of his case at The Hague. [Standard]

Khaminwa who spoke to The Standard said he had contacted Gicheru’s wife seeking to understand why he made such a rushed decision, upon which she responded that they saw it fit as a family to let Gicheru face his accusers.

“I have talked to Gicheru’s wife and she has told me that they looked at the issue and felt that they had no other option but for him to surrender,” Khaminwa said.

The Standard reported that Gicheru wrote to Head of Civil Service Joseph Kinyua, asking him for permission to travel to a destination where he is a wanted man.

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