Lawyer Paul Gicheru quietly left the country for The Hague, Netherlands, leaving no clue even to his lawyer, John Khaminwa, that he was to surrender to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The man who the senior lawyer claims to be of ill health did not either meet him or call to explain that he was leaving Kenya and why he took the decision.
Dr Khaminwa yesterday said he was surprised after finding out from the media that his client had flown out and was now awaiting processing by the international criminal court.
He, however, said he had spoken to Gicheru's wife who is with him in the Netherlands yesterday, and she had explained that they were fine. It also emerged that Gicheru, who is accused of being the grandmaster of a syndicate suspected to have interfered with witnesses in the case against Deputy President William Ruto, is not yet in the custody of the international court.
“I have spoken to his wife in The Hague and they are fine. Paul Gicheru as I know him does not enjoy good health at all and I hope that authorities in Hague will not put him into custody. I know him as a client and he should continue to be free. I know they read your paper there,” Khaminwa added.
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According to Khaminwa, Gicheru had positive orders from the High Court and which had not been set aside. He referred to the 2015 decree by Justice Luka Kimaru as ‘good orders’ for Gicheru which allowed him to enjoy his freedom in the country.
He says, what changed his heart remains a mystery.
“I did not meet him at all. I obtained good orders for him, that he should not be extradited and that matter had ended and I am surprised. I am wondering why he surrendered. I was just surprised like everyone that he had gone to Amsterdam,” Dr Khaminwa told The Standard.
Yesterday, ICC spokesman Fadi el Abdallah told The Standard that Gicheru’s case is separate from the one on Ruto, given that he is to be charged with offences against administration of justice consisting corruptly influencing witnesses of the court.
“His case is separate from the previous one concerning Mr Ruto and the charges are established in the arrest warrant. He is naturally presumed innocent, and only the judges would establish if his case can go to a trial and if he is found guilty, what would be the appropriate sentence,” Abdallah said.
If found guilty of committing crimes against administration of justice, Gicheru is to spend five years in jail or a fine in accordance with the court’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence, or both.
The court had announced on Tuesday that through its registry services, it had submitted a request to the Dutch authorities for the arrest and surrender of the lawyer to the court upon completion of the necessary national arrest proceedings.
In a short trial yesterday in which the office of the Prosecutor (OTP) was represented by Fatou Bensouda and James Stewart, the president of the Pre-Trial Division Judge Tomoko Akane, the judge Reine Adelaide Sophie Alapini-Gansou from Ivory Coast was named to hear the case.
Gicheru surrendered himself to the Netherlands authorities on Monday.
When asked whether Gicheru’s family was being offered any protection by the court, Abdallah said it is a confidential matter that cannot be communicated to the public.
“We never communicate about protection matters, and we ask you and all media not to speculate on who is or who is not given protection,” he said, adding that the court will announce in due course when the lawyer is expected to appear before the chamber.
When the prosecution presented its case in its application for warrants of arrest against Gicheru and Philip Koech Bett, Bensouda’s office produced 58 annexes containing documentary evidence, including a number of witness statements and transcripts of interviews, official documents and correspondence.
The prosecution alleged that the documents demonstrate there existed from at least April 2013, a scheme designed to systematically approach and corruptly influence witnesses of the prosecutor through bribery and other methods of inducement.
The prosecution said the inducement was in exchange for the witnesses’ withdrawal as its witnesses or recantation of their prior statements.
Dubbed as the manager and coordinator of the scheme, the prosecution claimed Gicheru finalised agreements with corrupted witnesses, organised the formalisation of their withdrawal and handled the payment.