By Prudence Minayo
Paul Gicheru is a Kenyan lawyer who was accused by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of contacting witnesses, “offered or paid them financial or other benefits, or threatened or intimidated them to induce them to withdraw as prosecution witnesses” to scuttle the crime against humanity cases that faced president William Ruto and former journalist Joshua Arap Sang at the Hague based court.
Those who have interacted with the lawyer describe him as a kind, humble man who led a simple life and was not one to flaunt a lavish lifestyle. He also used to frequent various social joints in Eldoret where he was famed for his generosity. He lived most of his life in Elgon View- a rich neighborhood in the outskirts of Eldoret town before moving to Nairobi.
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In 2015, the Hague issued an arrest warrant against him and a fellow lawyer for influencing prosecutors witnesses. The lawyer did not surrender to the court and it came as a shock to many when he finally surrendered late 2020. According to lawyer John Khaminwa, the Gicherus sat down as a family and agreed it was time he faced his accusers.
“I have talked to Gicheru’s wife and she has told me that they looked at the issue and felt that they had no other option but for him to surrender. She also informed me that his first appearance will be without a lawyer,” Khaminwa told the Standard.
Here is Paul Gicheru story as told by WoK.
The lawyer is 51-years-old as of 2021.
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Between 1987 and 1990, he was a student at Kapsabet Boys High School. He then proceeded to the University for a Law degree followed by the Kenya School of Law for a postgraduate diploma in law.
After being admitted to the bar, he began his career at a law firm in Eldoret called Kalya and Company Advocates.
Later, he opened his own law firm named Mr. Gicheru and Company Advocates at Veecam building on Oloo street Eldoret. Despite being of Agikuyu origin, the people of Eldoret, mostly Kalenjins, embraced him and many sought him for legal representation. The fact that he was born and raised in Uasin Gishu and can speak fluent Kalenjin was an added bonus. A resident of Eldoret even said the lawyer would at times offer free services to those unable to pay for legal representation.
One of his most talked about cases was when he represented Ms. Mary Toroitich Rono at the Eldoret Court of Appeal. He successfully argued against the discrimination of daughters when it comes to property inheritance.
In 2014, the head of Kenya’s national treasury, Henry Rotich, appointed him to head the public procurement review board up to 2nd October 2016.
On 10th September 2015, the ICC made public the arrest warrant of two prominent Kenyan lawyers, Paul Gicheru and Philip Kipkoech Bett. ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told judges that the two were part of a systematically designed scheme meant to approach and corrupt prosecution witnesses by bribing and using other schemes. They were accused of bribing prosecution witnesses and subsequently enticing them to withdraw their testimonies causing them to pull out of the case.
It was claimed that Gicheru was the boss and coordinator of the scheme and he conducted agreements with witnesses who had been interfered with. According to Bensouda, he handled witnesses’ withdrawal and initiated their reward payments. He was further alleged to have paid another witness two cash instalments of 600,000 and 400,000 respectively.
Five years down the line, on 6th November 2020, Gicheru surrendered himself to the Netherlands authorities. The ICC confirmed the case against him and he is expected to stand trial over alleged witness tampering. The court believes he committed an offence against administration of justice in order to undermine the prosecution’s case against deputy president William Ruto and Joshua Arap Sang.
The lawyer was found dead on Monday night (read 26 September 2022) in his Karen. “He had late lunch and felt unwell and went to bed but he did not wake up,” police said.
According to police, his son also collapsed and was taken to Karen Hospital but he is in stable condition.