Kenyan lawyer Paul Gicheru has pleaded not guilty to the numerous charges facing him for his alleged role in compromising witnesses that were to testify against Deputy President William Ruto at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The case opened Tuesday before Judge Miatta Maria Samba of the ICC at The Hague in Netherlands, 15 months after Mr Gicheru surrendered himself.
Mr Gicheru is accused of offences against the administration of justice by corruptly influencing eight witnesses with regard to the Ruto-Sang case, which stemmed from the 2007 post-election violence.
This happened as the prosecution laid out the case they have against Mr Gicheru in an opening statement, whose actions allegedly led to the withdrawal and recanting of statements of at least four key prosecution witnesses in the Ruto and Sang case.
After the court officer read all the confirmed charges to him, presiding Judge Miatta Maria Samba asked Mr Gicheru to stand up and take a plea.
Judge Samba: Do you understand the nature of the charges read out to you today?
Mr Gicheru: Yes, I do madam judge.
Judge Samba: Do you make admission of guilt to any of the charges?
Mr Gicheru: Not at all. Madam President, for the record I plead not guilty.
Judge Samba: In respect of all the charges?
Mr Gicheru: Yes.
Judge Samba: Thank you very much. You may be seated.
The Court's Deputy Prosecutor James Stewart, Senior Trial Lawyer Anton Steynberg and trial lawyer Alice Zago took the floor for opening statements.
Mr Stewart took the case after the court’s prosecutor Karim Khan recused himself since he was Dr Ruto’s lawyer in the case that involved crimes against humanity. That case was terminated in April 2016 because of “witness interference and political meddling”.
The terminated case also involved politician Henry Kiprono Kosgey.
Though he surrendered to the court voluntarily on November 2, 2020 -- five years after an arrest warrant was issued by the ICC -- Mr Gicheru has often denied the charges against him of offences against the administration of justice in the crimes against humanity charges against Mr Ruto and journalist Joshua Sang.
The first witness, identified as P-800, began testifying today.