The third prosecution witness in the International Criminal Court (ICC) trial of lawyer Paul Gicheru yesterday took the stand and narrated how a well-oiled financial juggernaut followed her out of the country in an attempt to bribe her to withdraw her evidence against Deputy President William Ruto.
The witness, P-0613, narrated to the trial court how members and agents of the witness bribery scheme followed her to a hotel in an unnamed foreign country with promises of money.
She said she was approached on several occasions with payments in exchange for withdrawal of her evidence against Dr Ruto in the crimes against humanity case against him.
Trial Chamber III Judge Maria Samba heard that the witness’ evidence in the Ruto case was about meetings organised by Dr Ruto in relation to the 2007/8 post-election violence.
While being led in her evidence in chief by Prosecutor Anton Steynberg, the witness said the agents were so determined to compromise her that they followed her outside the country and attempted to bribe her.
One of the agents travelled to the foreign country, but the planned meeting did not take place, said the witness. Other meetings happened later.
She had been kept at the hotel by the ICC prosecution investigators prior to April 2013, the Trial Chamber heard.
In the court session that largely proceeded in private, the witness said she was approached on several occasions between April and September 2013 and offered bribes to withdraw her evidence.
Asked by the prosecutor how “it came to her information that people back home in Kenya were looking for her”, the witness said she was reached via phone call. She confirmed to court the mobile number used to call her.
“I made a report to the investigators immediately after the phone call. They asked me to record the conversation. I agreed and I was recording through my phone. Later, they gave me a recording device,” said the witness.
She handed the recordings to the ICC investigators and gave an account of her phone conversations to the prosecution in statements.
Mr Steynberg yesterday said he would table the recordings as evidence in court.
“We will be tendering the recorded materials and corresponding transcripts and translation of all the people who spoke to the witness,” said Mr Steynberg.
On why she rejected the overtures, the witness said: “…because I wanted justice for victims of the post-election violence, not money for myself.”
Among the people who approached her for the purpose of offering her financial incentives to withdraw as a prosecution witness, were her fellow witnesses in the Ruto case such as P-0516, P-0495 and Meshack Yebei, according to court filings made earlier in preparation for yesterday’s proceedings. Yebei was killed in December 2014.
The prosecution documents indicate that on June 7, 2013, Yebei tried to get into contact with P-0613. Later, on June 14 and 17, the same year, unknown people sent her SMS trying to organise a meeting with her.
After some phone calls, on June 21, 2013, Yebei told her he wanted to meet her. They had two further phone conversations that day, and Yebei told her “these people” were seeking witnesses.
He continued calling her several times in July 2013 and said that he and others were waiting for the person who was organising the money for their trip to go and see her in the foreign country.
The prosecution evidence further indicates that on September 13, 2013, a witness named P-0495 met her and attempted to persuade her to meet the people who wanted to negotiate with her about the amount of money to give her, or other benefits.
She was told that the benefits she would receive were subject to negotiation and dependent on the ‘level in society she belonged to’.
The hearing continues.