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Wife reveals why lawyer Paul Gicheru decided to surrender to ICC

By Kamau Muthoni | November 5th 2020
Lawyer Paul Gicheru who surrendered to the ICC on Monday, November 2, 2020. [File, Standard]

Lawyer Paul Gicheru’s first appearance before the International Criminal Court (ICC) pre-trial chamber will be the start of a battle his family felt was inevitable.

The lawyer will be without a representative, starting the clock to his fate – either an acquittal or jail term.

The Standard team's search for why Gicheru had opted to surrender to the international court which had been hunting him here in Kenya took us to lawyer Dr John Khaminwa’s office in Nairobi yesterday.

At the time we got to his office, the 84-year-old advocate was sending a nine-page plea to the International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to factor in Gicheru’s health and have him defend himself out of ICC’s remand centre.

Drastic decision

Khaminwa had contacted Gicheru’s wife seeking to understand why he took a drastic decision of leaving Kenya for the Netherlands. Her response was that they sat as a family, weighed the issue and decided it was time Gicheru faced 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. She also informed me that his first appearance will be without a lawyer,” Khaminwa said.

Gicheru's wife was speaking to Khaminwa on phone from the Netherlands.

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Yesterday, Khaminwa could not come to terms with the fact that his client, a man with a government job, a decent life, free in Kenya and having health problems, would offer to test fate despite its unknown consequences.

Khaminwa, however, says that he has a moral duty to let the ICC know that Gicheru is ailing.

He had doubts he would fly to the ICC to defend him, although he says he will continue supporting and offering advice on the best way to deal with the situation.

In his letter to Bensouda, Khaminwa says he still believes that the ICC denied Kenya a chance to investigate Gicheru, Philip Bett and journalist Walter Barasa and try them in local courts.

Right to citizenship

“The respondents, as Kenya citizens, are entitled to exercise the right to citizenship. That right includes the right to be tried before a court established under the Constitution of Kenya,” Khaminwa wrote.

According to the senior lawyer, the letter was to solely inform the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) that at the time Gicheru was fighting not to be extradited, he was battling diabetes and hypertension.

“I respectfully urge you to seriously consider not placing him in custody. He needs the company of his wife who accompanies him, particularly this time,” Khaminwa said.

He said he was writing the letter because it was his moral duty as Gicheru’s lawyer and an officer of the court to ensure a fair trial.

 "I have written this letter having regard to my role as an officer of the court to assist the court in the discharge of its duties in the administration of justice," he said.

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