By Janet Sankale
The trial of Kenyan lawyer Paul Gicheru is scheduled to start before the International Criminal Court on February 15, 2022.
“The chamber has considered all the above information and notes the parties’ agreement to start the trial on March 1, 2022. Nevertheless, in light of the submissions made by the parties during the status conference and bearing in mind certain logistical constraints, the Chamber considers it both feasible and desirable to commence the trial two weeks earlier,” Trial Chamber III Judge Miatta Maria Samba stated.
The judge made the decision after receiving written submissions from the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP), the defence, and the Registry.
On September 24, 2021, the chamber held the first status conference in the case to receive further oral submissions in relation to the starting date of the trial.
Gicheru is facing charges of offences against the administration of justice consisting in corruptly influencing witnesses of the court between April 2013 and September 10, 2015.
The lawyer’s case springs from the Kenya situation that resulted from the post-election violence of 2007/2008. The election results that ushered then President Mwai Kibaki into his second term were disputed by his main rival, opposition leader Raila Odinga, and sparked violence that engulfed many parts of the country. More than 1,000 people were killed and thousands of others were displaced in the raging ethnic animosity.
In one of the two Kenya cases before the ICC that resulted from the violence, Kibaki’s successor Uhuru Kenyatta and Francis Muthaura, a senior government official, who were facing five counts of crimes against humanity, had the proceedings against them terminated on March 13, 2015, upon the prosecution’s notice of withdrawal of charges due to insufficient evidence.
In the case against Kenya’s current Deputy President, William Ruto, and former journalist Joshua arap Sang, the six counts of crimes against humanity were vacated on April 5, 2016 due to witness interference. This means they can be opened afresh in the future.
The ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber A confirmed the charges against Gicheru on July 15, 2021. The court said it had found substantial grounds to believe Gicheru was criminally responsible as a co-perpetrator for the commission of the offences and committed him to trial.
Gicheru surrendered himself before the ICC on November 2, 2020. The court had issued an arrest warrant against him and Philip Kipkoech Bett on March 10, 2015. The lawyer’s first appearance before the court was on November 6, 2020. On December 11, 2020, Pre-Trial Chamber A severed the cases against Gicheru and Bett.