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Credibility of witness questioned in Gicheru ICC trial as three testify

Judge Miatta Maria Samba of Trial Chamber III at the opening of the trial in the Gicheru case at the ICC in The Hague (Netherlands) on 15 February 2022 ©ICC-CPI Paul Gicheru at the opening of his trial at the ICC on 15 February 2022. [ICC-CPI]

Lawyer Paul Gicheru has questioned the credibility of a witness he accused of lying to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to enrich herself.

Gicheru, through lawyer Michael Karnavas, labelled the witness, P-0613, a liar who took advantage of the Kenyan situation after the 2007 post-election violence to gain personal benefits from the ICC to implicate Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua Sang.

According to Karnavas, the witness was recorded on phone calling people to recruit them into the ICC programme and coached those she had recruited on what to say to implicate Ruto, Sang and Gicheru.

“The testimony from other witnesses proved that she wanted to remain relevant to the ICC and continue receiving financial support and other benefits. That is why she decided to lie about and cook imaginary allegations against the accused persons,” said Karnavas.

Karnavas put the witness to task over her inconsistencies and alleged greed for financial support as he took her through the testimony of other ICC witnesses who had told the court that she coached them and promised them hefty rewards if they cooperated in the scheme to implicate Ruto.

In one instance, he read out the testimony of a witness identified as Person 8, who testified that he was recruited by P-0613 and coached on what to say over an alleged meeting the Deputy President had to plan for the post-election violence.

Although the witness, who at the time was working with a local non-governmental organisation admitted to knowing and meeting Person 8, she denied coaching him on what to say to implicate Ruto, Sang and Gicheru.

“The witness gave false information against me because he had already been bribed to withdraw from the Ruto and Sang case.

“It is in public knowledge that there were rallies and meetings organized by perpetrators of the post-election violence,” she said.

She also denied claims that she lied to the ICC that her husband was killed during the post-election violence and left her with three children in order to get financial support, when in reality she was single and had only one child.

Karnavas read to her another testimony of another witness identified as Person 30 who claimed that P-0613 was going around some villages promising people cash rewards if they agreed to be ICC witnesses.

“Person 8 also confirmed to the court that you approached him with information that you had connection with ICC prosecutors and if he agreed to be coached as a witness, he would be relocated to another country and live a good life,” said Karnavas.

But witness P-0613 told ICC Trial Chamber III Judge Maria Samba that although Person 8 was his neighbour, he lied by trying to make her look like someone who was after receiving bribes for personal benefit.

She also denied claims by another witness that they agreed to mention Gicheru as the individual who was bribing witnesses to withdraw from the case so as to continue receiving financial support from the ICC.

According to the witness, she did not know Gicheru, and at no point did they meet to discuss issues of payment to withdraw her testimony.

The witnesses also said that she had a secret phone which she used to communicate with other witnesses without the knowledge of ICC prosecutors, and she lied to some of them because she feared for her life.

“It is also true that I told another witness that I wanted to spill the beans against ICC because I felt they were asking us to shut our mouths without telling us the secret things they didn’t want us to tell the world,” said the witness.

The witness also confirmed she had stated she was willing to continue cooperating with the ICC so long as they provided her financial needs.

The judge adjourned the hearing to Monday, when the ICC prosecutors will present the fourth witness.