- Witness said he changed the phones and lines for his own security.
- The defence team wondered why the witness changed the lines without notifying investigators.
The first prosecution witness in the case against lawyer Paul Gicheru at ICC used many phones and sim cards to hood wink investigators and the accused.
The court heard that the witness (P0800) used the phones and lines to engage the accused, other witnesses and investigators from Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) at the same time.
P0800, while being cross-examined, admitted having phones and lines but could not remember the number.
Gicheru’s lawyer Michael G Karnavas pointed out to the court that even OTP investigators wondered why the witness had so many numbers.
“Investigators asked you to stop communicating with other witnesses but you changed the numbers when you did it. You were not doing it for your security alone but for investigators not to know who you were talking to,” Karnavas said.
Gicheru has been accused of undermining a case against Deputy President William Ruto and former KASS radio presenter Joshua Arap Sang at the ICC.
The prosecution led by senior trial lawyer Anton Steynberg believes Gicheru played a key role in a scheme to thwart the trial of Ruto.
Ruto and Sang were accused of crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the 2007-2008 post-election violence in which 1,200 people died.
ICC judges ruled in 2016 that the two had no case to answer, although they left the door open to possible fresh charges in future.
They said the case had been hampered by political interference and threats against witnesses.
On Thursday, P0800 said he changed the lines and the phones for his own security and that he discarded the sim cards after using them.
“I left the lines completely because I would be followed easily using communication data,” the witness said.
For the second day running, the defence made a relentless effort to demonstrate that witness P0800 is a dishonest person.
On Wednesday, Karnavas told the court the character of witness P0800 was in question and that even the Office of The Prosecution had viewed him as a liar.
He said witness number seven repeatedly said P0800 coached him to be a witness.
On Tuesday, witness P0800 told the court he was offered a bribe to recant all his testimonies in order to derail case against Ruto and Sang.
He further said those offering the bribe asked him not to appear before the court when needed to testify.
On Thursday, Karnavas wondered why the witness changed the lines without notifying investigators. “Sometimes you were unavailable to investigators when required because you used to turn off the phone,” he said.
The defence further said the witness allowed his wife to use the phone that had been provided by the OTP.
“You were warned against swapping sim cards on that phone,” Karnavas said.
He added that the witness used to hide his identity when making the calls so that the people he talked to would believe he was in Kenya.
Karnavas said the witness on one occasion sent a message to Gicheru saying he had a relative in hospital who had a huge medical bill.
He said the witness sought the assistance of another witness to contact Gicheru.
On Tuesday, Steynberg said Gicheru organised a systematic criminal scheme, aimed at approaching and corrupting prosecution witnesses.
He claimed Gicheru used bribes and other inducements, in exchange for their withdrawal as witnesses and/or recantation of their prior statements to the prosecution
The case is before presiding judge Miatta Maria Samba.
The ICC issued an arrest warrant against lawyer Gicheru and Philip Kipkoech Bett on March 10, 2015.
The arrest warrant was for offences against the administration of justice consisting in corruptly influencing witnesses of the court.
On November 2, 2020, Gicheru surrendered to the authorities of the Netherlands.
On July 15, 2021, ICC Pre-Trial Chamber A confirmed the charges of offences against the administration of justice brought by the prosecutor against Gicheru and committed him to trial.
The offences against the administration of justice (article 70(1)(c) of the Rome Statute) were allegedly committed between April 2013 and the closure of the Ruto and Sang case on 10 September 2015, in Kenya.
(Edited by Bilha Makokha)