Kenyan Lawyer on Trial at International Criminal Court Is Found Dead

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NAIROBI, Kenya — A Kenyan lawyer on trial at the International Criminal Court on prices of witness tampering in a case linked to President William Ruto was discovered lifeless at his dwelling in a suburb of the capital, Nairobi, his household and the police stated on Tuesday.

The lawyer, Paul Gicheru, had been awaiting a verdict within the trial, which befell in The Hague from February to June. Prosecutors accused him of bribing and intimidating witnesses to forestall them from testifying in opposition to Mr. Ruto over his position in postelection violence in Kenya in 2007 and 2008.

Mr. Ruto was sworn in as president on Sept. 13 after profitable final month’s hard-fought election by a slim margin.

Michael G. Karnavas, Mr. Gicheru’s lawyer, confirmed his dying. Kenyan information studies, citing the police, stated that he went to sleep after a meal at his dwelling in Karen, a rich Nairobi suburb, on Monday and was discovered lifeless later that evening. His son was taken to a hospital and complained of abdomen pains after consuming the identical meal.

Mr. Karnavas stated that he suspected foul play and referred to as on the Kenyan authorities and the International Criminal Court to open a full investigation into the dying.

“It’s considerably odd that after the election in Kenya, and earlier than the courtroom points its judgment, there may be this incident,” he stated. “This warrants the I.C.C. stepping as much as the plate.”

Mr. Gicheru induced a sensation in Kenya in late 2020 when he flew to Amsterdam to current himself to the International Criminal Court, after years of refusing to face trial and resisting the courtroom’s efforts to have him extradited to The Hague.

When the trial began this yr, Mr. Gicheru pleaded not responsible and declined to testify. A spokesman for the International Criminal Court stated in an e mail that underneath the courtroom’s tips, a verdict have to be issued inside 10 months. The trial led to June.

Mr. Gicheru’s household is anticipated to carry a information convention concerning the circumstances of his dying later on Tuesday, Kenyan information studies stated. The Kenya Human Rights Commission urged the authorities “to conduct swift and conclusive investigations.”

The dying was the newest twist in a decade-long authorized journey, punctuated by collapsed trials and accusations of meddling, that has framed Kenyan politics.

In 2011, the International Criminal Court indicted Mr. Ruto for crimes in opposition to humanity over accusations that he orchestrated among the political violence that swept Kenya after the disputed election of 2007 through which at least 1,200 individuals had been killed and 600,000 others had been compelled from their properties.

Uhuru Kenyatta, then a political rival of Mr. Ruto, was additionally indicted on comparable prices.

By 2016, the circumstances in opposition to each males had collapsed after key witnesses recanted their testimony and the Kenyan authorities stopped cooperating with the courtroom. By then, Mr. Ruto and Mr. Kenyatta had resolved their political variations and had grow to be a formidable political power. They gained the 2013 election, with Mr. Kenyatta as president and Mr. Ruto as his deputy, and had been re-elected in 2017.

But in dismissing the cost in opposition to Mr. Ruto, the courtroom did not declare him innocent, leaving open the chance that he might face a brand new trial. It had already, in 2015, indicted one in all his Kenyan legal professionals, Mr. Gicheru, on accusations that he ran a witness tampering scheme.

During the trial that began in February, prosecutors accused Mr. Gicheru of providing bribes of as much as $41,600 to witnesses who withdrew their testimony in opposition to Mr. Ruto and Joshua Sang, a radio journalist accused of stoking political violence within the Rift Valley after the 2007 vote.

Eight prosecution witnesses testified earlier than the courtroom. Prosecutors stated some witnesses had been threatened and feared for his or her lives.

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim Khan, recused himself from the Gicheru case as a result of he had represented Mr. Ruto as a protection lawyer through the trial that collapsed in 2016.

After Mr. Ruto’s case collapsed, the International Criminal Court prosecutions receded from prominence in Kenya. Mr. Gicheru, by then a senior Kenya authorities official, successfully opposed efforts by the courtroom to have him extradited to The Hague.

But the affair returned to prominence in November 2020 when Mr. Gicheru voluntarily flew to The Hague along with his spouse and introduced himself for trial at The Hague.

The surprising transfer by Mr. Gicheru stoked widespread hypothesis inside Kenya that it was linked to the crumbling relationship between Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto. Two years earlier, Mr. Kenyatta had signed a political pact with Raila Odinga, a veteran opposition chief anticipated to contest the 2022 election, that his deputy, Mr. Ruto, noticed as a betrayal.

When Mr. Gicheru introduced himself for trial in 2020, Kenyan information studies speculated that he had been pressured or inducted to current himself for trial as a part of an effort to resurrect the I.C.C. case in opposition to his former consumer, Mr. Ruto.

His lawyer, Mr. Karnavas, stated Mr. Gicheru surrendered himself to The Hague to clear his title. “It was a sword of Damocles,” Mr. Karnavas stated.

During the hearings early this yr, no proof emerged that instantly linked the witness tampering scheme to Mr. Ruto, and the problem hardly figured within the bitterly fought election marketing campaign that led to August, with Mr. Ruto’s slim victory over Mr. Odinga.

Mr. Karnavas stated the prosecution’s case was weak and, had Mr. Gicheru lived to listen to the decision, he was assured he would have been acquitted.

“Here’s somebody who got here voluntarily to clear his title, realizing the implications,” he stated. “Even if there’s no foul play, there must be an investigation.”

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