A prosecution witness yesterday testified at the International Criminal Court about the ‘Common Plan’ that was allegedly executed by Deputy President William Ruto after the 2007 disputed presidential election.
Identified as P-0738, she said the plan was implemented by a group of persons to bribe witnesses to recant their evidence and refuse or cease cooperating with the ICC.
Members of the said ‘Common Plan’ included Mr Isaac Maiyo, a former chairman of the Constituencies Development Fund (CDF) of Eldoret North Constituency, Mr Silas Kibet Simatwo, Mr Phillip Bett, Mr Meshack Yebei (former prosecution intermediary, now deceased) and Mr Walter Barasa.
At the time, Mr Bett used to work for a human rights organisation called Kalenjin Youth Alliance, which collected testimonies of victims of the 2007 post-election violence while Mr Barasa was a journalist based in Eldoret.
The witness was testifying in the trial of lawyer Paul Gicheru, who has been charged with eight counts of offences against the administration of justice.
The offences were allegedly committed between April 2013 and the closure of the Ruto-Sang case on September 10, 2015. If convicted, he faces a maximum of five years in prison or a fine.
Her testimony was about alleged attempts to bribe and intimidate prosecution witnesses in the terminated trial of Dr Ruto and radio journalist Joshua Sang. The prosecution alleges that Dr Ruto was aware of a corrupt witness interference scheme and even financed it.
She also testified about identification, location and contacting of witnesses in the Ruto-Sang case.
The two were being tried for crimes against humanity and the mass displacement of people that occurred after the disputed 2007 presidential election, 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, noting that the case had been hampered by political interference and threats against witnesses.
At least Sh20 million was reportedly spent in buying star witnesses, court papers show. They were central to the Ruto-Sang case but ICC judges disregarded their testimony when their credibility became questionable.
The fifth witness’s evidence also entailed allegations of offering and payment of financial benefits to the witnesses and threatening or intimidating them in order to induce them to withdraw.
She testified in Kiswahili but a court assistant interpreted to the trial judge in English. Trial Judge Maria Samba said Mr Gicheru’s trial will resume on March 7 with the testimony of a new witness, identified as P-0730.