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Paul Gicheru pleads not guilty, denies bribing witness

Gicheru is accused of bribing eight witnesses

PHOTO: Paul Gicheru at the opening of his trial at the ICC on 15 February 2022 ©ICC-CPI

Lawyer Paul Gicheru has pleaded not guilty to bribery charges relating to his alleged role in compromising witnesses that were to testify against Deputy President William Ruto at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The ICC has accused Gicheru of having played a major role in the withdrawal of the case against Ruto in 2016. The lawyer is accused of bribing eight witnesses.

The trial started with the reading of the charges against Gicheru. The Chamber was satisfied that the accused understood the nature of the charges. The accused plead not-guilty to the all charges.

The Court's Deputy Prosecutor James Stewart, Senior Trial Lawyer Anton Steynberg and trial lawyer Alice Zago took the floor for opening statements.

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The first prosecution witness also started testifying on the same day. However, the Defence decided not to present any statements at this point of the proceedings.

ICC prosecutor Steward on Tuesday said Gicheru, "managed and coordinated a scheme to identify, locate and corruptly influence actual and potential prosecution witnesses" through a combination of threats and bribery.

Prosecution lawyer Steynberg said the "wide ranging and concerted scheme" involved witnesses being offered large sums of money not to testify to the ICC.

Gicheru had set up meetings and then paid bribes in installments of hundreds of thousands of shillings, he said. One witness was told that they would "now be safe" after accepting the bribe, Steynberg said.

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His actions led to at least four prosecution witnesses withdrawing and recanting their testimony, prosecutors said. If convicted he faces a maximum of five years in prison or a fine.

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