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ICC witness links Ruto to bribery money, Sh2m was to buy loyalty

Court declined to take a statement of the second witness due to the late introduction of evidence. [Courtesy]

International Criminal Court prosecutor yesterday lost a bid to present a pre-recorded testimony by the second witness testifying against lawyer Paul Gicheru.

Trial Chamber III judge Maria Samba, in her ruling, directed the deputy prosecutor Anton Steynberg to stick to the hearing plan.

It also emerged that this witness P-0341 linked Gicheru to bribery and alleged that Deputy President William Ruto was the source of the money.

But, according to court records, he did not testify against Ruto and radio journalist Joshua Arap Sang.

He had however been earmarked as a potential witness. Court record reads the man was a 2007-2008 polls violence victim.

According to the prosecution, the witness implicated Ruto as the source of the bribery money adding that he (Ruto) was happy with the arrangement between Gicheru and P-0341.

“P-0341 agreed not to attend any more ICC meetings, but in fact subsequently continued to do so. Ruto was pleased with the agreement reached with P-0341,” the prosecution’s trial brief read in part.

On the pre-recorded statement, the judge said the application had been made too late in the day, which was a disadvantage to Gicheru’s team.

“An introduction of the evidence would be prejudicial to the defense and is inconsistent with the rights of the accused, unlike what is claimed by the prosecution. Accordingly, the chamber rejects the request,” ruled Justice Samba.

Steynberg on Monday asked the court to admit the statement by witness P-0341 arguing that the witness’s level of education and his age would require the prosecution to take nine hours to lead him through.

On the flip side, the prosecution argued that it would require him an hour and 45 minutes to lead the witness if his pre-recorded testimony was admitted.

Gicheru’s lawyer Michael Karvanas opposed the application. He argued that it was impossible to cross-examine the witness if he could not even follow what he wrote in his statement.

The witness is said to only comprehend his mother tongue and Kiswahili.

Lawyer Paul Gicheru. [File, Standard]

“If the gentleman cannot follow their direct examination how on God’s earth is he going to follow cross-examination. I am going to be getting all sorts of objections, that I’m being unfair to the witness when I’m pointing into certain documents and I’m demanding that an answer be given,” Karvanas replied.

The entire trial was in private. 

ICC deputy prosecutor Anton Steynberg stated that although P-0341 was not in the list of witnesses, Gicheru perceived that he had critical information which was important to the court and in particular, could nail Ruto.

“Although P-0341 was not a Prosecution trial witness, he was regarded by Gicheru as a person possessing information relevant to the proceedings before the Court, and in particular information detrimental to Ruto in the Ruto and Sang case,” Steynberg claims.

According to Steynberg, on or about April 24, 2013, to mid-April 2014, in Eldoret, Gicheru and others corruptly influenced P-0341 by promising him Sh5 million, a car, a farm, a plot of land in that town.

The prosecutor in his documents further alleged that this witness received between Sh1 million and Sh2 million to buy his loyalty.

At the same time, he was allegedly intimidated to refuse to become an ICC prosecution witness if he was asked to do so.

He was also allegedly asked to stop attending ICC victims meetings and to sign a pre-prepared affidavit indicating his withdrawal from the ICC process.

According to the prosecution, this witness also agreed to track other post-election violence victims and promise them money from the DP if they cooperated.

“Fearful, P-0341 accepted but did not intend to deliver. Gicheru told P-0341 that he had already sent other people to track the individuals he had asked P-0341 to locate. P-0341 understood this as a veiled threat, signalling to P-0341 that Gicheru would be able to find him anywhere if he turned and chose to be an ICC witness,” Steynberg claims.

He continues: “From 2011 onwards, P-0341 was approached at several PEV victims meetings by different individuals who promised Ruto’s financial assistance if he withdrew from the ICC process.”

Deputy President William Ruto during his press conference on the collapse of his case at the ICC, April 2016. [Beverlyne Musili, Standard]

According to Steynberg, P-0341 was not immediately paid as the money had run out.

However, Gicheru never paid him, explaining each day that there was no money left to give because many people were being bought to withdraw from the ICC proceedings. He asked P-0341 to come back another day when “Ruto will send more money,” the prosecutor continued.

According to him, the witness eventually got Sh500,000 and was advised not to bank the money.

However, he opened a bank account and deposited Sh300,000. This is what drew ICC investigators to him.

The case continues today.