The much sought-after Kenyan lawyer Paul Gicheru is currently being held at the International Criminal Court’s detention centre in The Haque. Gicheru was surrendered to the custody of ICC on Tuesday by Dutch authorities paving way for his first appearance in Court which is expected to take place anytime from now.
The fate of Gicheru is now in the hands of three Pre-Trial Chamber II judges who have been assigned his case. The Judges include Antoine Kesia-Mbe Mindua (Presiding judge), Tomoko Akane, Rosario Salvatore Aitala.
According to a statement sent by the court’s public affairs unit Tuesday evening, the Pre-Trial Chamber is expected to first confirm the identity of Gicheru during his first appearance and ensure that the suspect understands the charges.
Thereafter, the court will confirm language in which the proceedings should be conducted, and sets a date to begin the confirmation of charges hearing. The court will soon confirm the exact date when the confirmation hearing will officially kick-off.
Gicheru is suspected of offences against the administration of justice consisting in corruptly influencing witnesses of the Court.
Gicheru surrendered to the authorities of The Netherlands on Monday, pursuant to an ICC arrest warrant issued in 2015. He was transferred today to the ICC custody after the completion of the necessary national arrest proceedings.
Gicheru and alongside another Kenyan Philip Kipkoech Bett, who remains at large, are accused of being behind an organized and systematic criminal scheme, aimed at “approaching and corrupting Prosecution witnesses through bribes and other inducements, in exchange for their withdrawal as witnesses and/or recantation of their prior statements to the Prosecution.”
“My office is investigating, identifying, and prosecuting individuals who seek to pervert the course of justice at the ICC.” ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda noted in her application for the court to issue arrest warrants against Gicheru and Bett.
In 2015, Bensouda argued before the court that the activities of Gicheru and Bett left potential witnesses too scared to come forward, while others who gave statements subsequently sought to withdraw from the process, citing intimidation.
She said investigations into atrocities committed during the 2007-2008 post-election violence were undermined by a relentless campaign that targeted individuals perceived to be Prosecution witnesses, with threats or offers of bribes, to dissuade them from testifying or persuade witnesses to recant their prior testimony.