The sudden death of Kenyan lawyer Paul Gicheru, while out on Ksh1 million ($8278) bond and as he waited for the ruling in his case at the International Criminal Court (ICC), has put President William Ruto’s regime in the international spotlight.
Gicheru, 52, was found dead at his Karen home on Monday evening. This means his case at The Hague is over since the ICC does not convict or acquit the dead – as reasoned in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the case against Slobodan Milosevic.
It also means that President Ruto, who was adversely mentioned during the Gicheru trial, is off the hook — for now.
Mr Gicheru, a former ally of President Ruto, was charged with interfering with ICC witnesses in the case in which Dr Ruto was charged with crimes against humanity following the 2007/2008 post-election violence. His arrest warrant was unsealed on September 10, 2015.
However, though a Kenyan court had stopped his extradition, the lawyer surrendered to the Dutch authorities on November 2, 2020, surprising his friends and lawyers.
During his trial, which closed on June 27, 2022, Dr Ruto was adversely mentioned by the prosecution as the beneficiary of the “common scheme”, which included bribery and intimidation of witnesses.
Interestingly, Mr Gicheru, who was charged with eight counts of offences against the administration of justice, opted not to present any oral testimony during his case, and his lawyer relied on documents disclosed by the prosecution to extricate him from the jaws of the ICC. Even more intriguing is that Mr Gicheru’s defence failed to call any witnesses.
Mr Gicheru’s death is the second one among the members of the “common scheme”. In December 2015, one of Mr Gicheru’s allies, Meshack Yebei, was abducted and killed.
His body was later found in the Tsavo National Park. Mr Yebei was also implicated in efforts to corrupt witnesses in the case against Dr Ruto and his co-defendant, Joshua arap Sang.