ICC judge admits role in probe over Kenyan poll chaos cases


Lawyer Paul Gicheru during an interview with The Standard Group reporters at his office in Nairobi on February 04, 2021. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

International Criminal Court Judge Miatta Maria Samba has disclosed that she was part of a team that investigated the 2007-2008 post-election violence in Kenya but insisted that her role was on the periphery.

In her ruling on information sought by lawyer Paul Gicheru, the Trial Chamber III judge says she had a limited role of maintaining contact between witnesses and investigators, and cannot recall who the witnesses were and in which case.

Gicheru had asked for information on her engagement with the office of the prosecutor, citing possible conflict of interest. He is in the ICC over alleged witness interference in the case against Deputy President William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang.

However, the judge asserted that she does not recall the names of investigators who went to the field from the headquarters, which she supported logistically.

“I am not in a position to provide any further details with regard to any witnesses with whom I interacted with while providing operational support to investigators working on the Kenya situation or cases related to this situation," Justice Maria said.

On August 18, Gicheru sought information concerning the judge's prior employment at the Office of the Prosecutor between 2006 and 2010.

In its reply, the prosecution told the trial court that Gicheru’s team knew of Justice Maria's previous engagement at the Office of the Prosecutor. Further, the prosecution said that that the information about the judge was provided on July 29.

“Since then, the prosecution has not identified any further information of relevance to the matter at hand. This is all the prosecution has to inform the chamber at this specific stage. Should the defence decide to make further submissions or seek any relief in relation to this matter, the prosecution will respond accordingly within any deadline set by the chamber,” argued deputy prosecutor James Stewart.

The judge noted that between October 2006 and September 2010, she worked as a field operations officer for the Office of the Prosecutor under the operational support unit of the investigation division. During this time, she was stationed in Kampala, Uganda, in the court’s field office.

According to Maria, she participated in two missions to Arusha, Tanzania, between April to August 2010.

The judge disclosed that her activities only consisted of operational support for investigations such as renting interview rooms and supporting the movement of witnesses to interview locations.

Justice Maria said: “At no point in time during my employment with the Office of the Prosecutor did I actively participate in the gathering of evidence or the taking of a witness statement. I was also not privy to any witness statements taken by the prosecution during its investigative activities. Nor did I have access to any electronic data banks containing evidence.”

Gicheru surrendered to the ICC last year following an arrest warrant issued over claims of witness interference.

According to the prosecutor, one witness, P-0274, narrated that Gicheru informed them that they needed to reach out and buy out everyone in the cases to stop them from assisting the ICC.

He claimed that P-0274, alongside P-0341, attended the victims’ public meeting at the beginning of the Ruto and Sang case.