What you need to know:
- The two are lawyer Paul Gicheru and Phillip Kipkoech Bett.
- Journalist Walter Barasa is also wanted by the ICC for allegedly interfering with ICC witnesses.
The International Criminal Court has made public arrest warrants it had issued in confidence against two Kenyans on allegations of interfering with witnesses.
The two are lawyer Paul Gicheru and Phillip Kipkoech Bett.
The Pre-Trial Chamber II judges said since the two were arrested by the Kenya police on July 30 at the request of the ICC, the warrants could no longer be kept secret.
“Following the arrest of these two suspects in Nairobi, and the notification of this fact to the Office of the Prosecutor by the Kenyan authorities on 24 August 2015, the Pre-Trial Chamber II of the ICC unsealed these warrants of arrest earlier today,” ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement Thursday.
This brings the number of Kenyans wanted by ICC for interfering with witnesses to three.
Journalist Walter Barasa is also wanted by the ICC for allegedly interfering with ICC witnesses.
Mr Barasa’s bid to have the warrant replaced with summons failed after ICC judges declined his request on Thursday.
Ms Bensouda said the warrants were issued on March 10 this year.
She said Mr Gicheru and Mr Bett are believed to have corruptly influenced six prosecution witnesses.
She said the court issued the warrants to ensure they appear during their trial, to ensure that they do not obstruct on-going cases or continue to interfere with witnesses.
“I trust that the Kenyan authorities will fulfil their obligations under the Rome Statute to ensure the surrender of all three suspects to the custody of the Court,” she said.
The prosecutor lamented that her investigations and prosecutions in Kenya have been “undermined by a relentless campaign that has targeted individuals who are perceived to be Prosecution witnesses, with threats or offers of bribes, to dissuade them from testifying or persuade witnesses to recant their prior testimony”.
She claimed that potential witnesses have been too scared to come forward.
“Indeed, the Chamber of Judges presiding over the ongoing trial of Messrs Ruto and Sang, recently noted the systematic nature of the interference of several witnesses in that case,” she said.