Lawyer Paul Gicheru is dead

Paul Gicheru

Kenyan lawyer Paul Gicheru. 

Photo credit: Pool | AFP

Lawyer Paul Gicheru, who was charged at the International Criminal Court for allegedly compromising witnesses that were to testify against President William Ruto has died.

The Eldoret-based lawyer’s death has been confirmed by his family. The family, however, promised to give more details about their kin’s death tomorrow.

 In June, the International Criminal Court (ICC) closed the trial of lawyer Gicheru over the alleged bribery of witnesses that were to testify against President William Ruto concerning the 2007 post-election violence that left 1,200 people dead.

 His lawyers and ICC prosecutors clashed in their counter-arguments at the end of the trial that lasted 19 months, where Ruto was mentioned multiple times.

Trial judge Miatta Maria Samba said the chamber will deliberate on the proceedings and, within a reasonable period, pronounce its decision on either conviction or acquittal.

Mr Gicheru had in November 2020 surrendered to the authorities of the Netherlands pursuant to an arrest warrant issued by Pre-Trial Chamber II of ICC.

The arrest warrant against Mr Gicheru and Philip Kipkoech Bett was issued under seal on 10 March 2015 and unsealed on 10 September 2015.

The court had issued arrest warrants for three Kenyans — Walter Barasa, Paul Gicheru and Phillip Bett — on charges of obstructing the course of justice.

The arrest warrant against Mr Gicheru was initially issued under seal on March 10, 2015 by trial chamber Judge Ekaterina Trendafilova.

Paul Gicheru

Lawyer Paul Gicheru during the opening of his case at the ICC on February 15, 2022.

Photo credit: Pool | Nation Media Group

This was after chaos erupted on December 31, 2007, after the announcement of Mwai Kibaki as the presidential poll winner in a race he closely contested with ODM leader Raila Odinga.

1,000 people killed

As a result, over 1,000 people were killed, 900 rape cases and sexual violence documented, and approximately 350,000 people were displaced.

The prosecutor alleged that there existed, from at least April 2013, a criminal scheme designed to systematically approach and corruptly influence witnesses of the Prosecutor through bribery and other methods of inducements in exchange for their withdrawal as prosecution witnesses and/or recantation of their prior statements to the Prosecutor.  

The evidence indicated that said scheme has been run in an organised manner and with a clear distribution of tasks.

In particular, Mr Gicheru was pointed out as a manager and coordinator of the scheme, meaning that he has finalised agreements with corrupted witnesses, organised the formalisation of their withdrawal and handled the payment.

The role of Mr Bett was to contact the witnesses, at least some of whom they knew previously, and to make initial proposals before bringing them to the managers, particularly Paul Gicheru.

The evidence indicated that a similar role within the same scheme was exercised by Walter Osapiri Barasa, for whom a warrant of arrest had been issued by the Court on 2 August 2013.

There was also information that those witnesses who were successfully corrupted were enticed to make contact with other witnesses, for the purpose of their corruption.

In the first case, he was accused of offering Sh5 million in exchange for a witness identified as P-397 withdrawing their testimony.

In respect to another witness identified as P-516, Mr Gicheru met the witness, discussed and agreed on the terms of the witness's withdrawal, leading to the witness failing to attend a meeting with officials of the ICC.

It was also said that he also promised witness P-800 Sh1.5 million for the withdrawal of evidence. Before the start of the ICC trials, Mr Gicheru was largely unknown to the public.

The lawyer went to Kapsabet Boys High School from 1987 to 1990 and then joined the University of Nairobi for a law degree and later on to the Kenya School of Law for a diploma in law.

After his admission to the Bar, he started his career as an advocate working for Eldoret-based Kalya and Company Advocates.

Later, he opened his law firm, Mr Gicheru and Company Advocates, at Veecam building on Oloo Street, close to the Eldoret wholesale market.

One of his most famous cases is that of Ms Mary Toroitich Rono at the Court of Appeal in Eldoret in which he successful argued against the discrimination of daughters in sharing of family property.

Before moving to Nairobi where his family is, the lawyer lived at the upmarket Elgon View estate in Eldoret. He also owns a dairy farm in Naivasha.