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Witness links DP Ruto, lawyer Paul Gicheru to Sh2m bribe

 

Lawyer Paul Gicheru during an interview with The Standard Group at his office in Nairobi on February 4, 2021. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

A witness at the International Criminal Court (ICC) says he did not have records of Sh2 million he was allegedly paid to recant his evidence against Deputy President William Ruto.

P-0341, the second witness in the case against lawyer Paul Gicheru, told trial judge Maria Samba that he opened a bank account after being paid the first installment.

The witness, however, said his bank statements did not show the source of the money. The witness was put to task by Gicheru’s lawyer Michael Karnavas to prove the money actually came from the lawyer.

“It is true Gicheru or any other person did not deposit the money in my account. But it is because they never paid me in cheque. They gave me cash in installments which I deposited in the bank account and that is why it does not show who paid me,” the witness said. The witness claimed he received the Sh2 million from Ruto, who at the time was facing charges of crimes against humanity, and that he signed a contract document to withdraw as a witness. He said that even after those who paid him suspected he was still in contact with ICC prosecutors, they continued to give him the payments in installments to have him recant his evidence.

He, however, testified that he did not have a copy of the alleged contract, and that he did not read it since he did not understand English.

“Someone read to me the contract in English but I did not understand it since I do not understand the language. But that was what it was since I was told it was an agreement for me to withdraw as a witness for the ICC,” he said.

According to the witness, they communicated with Gicheru through phone several times but could not provide call log and data to show which numbers they used.

Asked if he was surprised that there were no phone records of his communications with Gicheru, the witness told the court to believe him.

“I could not do a follow-up of the records but I know I communicated with Gicheru, not one but many times. Sometimes, he called me and sometimes I called him. It is, however true, that there are no records of the phone call,” he said. He testified that he was given a phone in 2012 when he came to Nairobi to meet some people but the phone had no sim card. He bought a sim card when he got back home. Asked if he had read newspaper stories about witness withdrawal from the Ruto case, he told the court he had many things do at the time and could not buy newspapers since many were written in English which he could not read or understand.

P-0341 said he remembers signing the contract not to testify against Ruto but that he did not have proof since he was not given a copy of the document.

“I agree that without evidence, I am simply asking the court to take my word. It is also true that there was a card I took from Gicheru but I can’t remember the number on it,” he said.

The witness was being cross-examined by Karnavas who is representing Gicheru is the trial where he is charged with witness interference in the ICC case against Ruto and journalist Joshua Sang.

His evidence in chief given to court on Monday was conducted behind closed session as the prosecution sought to rely on his pre-recorded statement where he implicated the Deputy President as the source of the Sh2 million he was paid to withdraw as a witness. The hearing continues.