ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda during the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute 14th Session, held in The Hague on Wednesday
The ICC has issued more sealed arrest warrants against Kenyans – this time four of them, three of whom sources say are close to Deputy President William Ruto.
The latest warrants are for alleged witness interference.
This brings to seven the number of Kenyans wanted by Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda for witness tampering. If convicted, they could spend up to five years in jail.
The latest details emerged as Kenya’s delegation to the Assembly of States Parties at The Hague yesterday struggled to block the use of recanted testimony in the case against the DP and journalist Joshua arap Sang.
ICC Outreach Coordinator for Kenya and Uganda Maria Kamara told the Star she is unaware of any new warrants.
“You can only know about warrants if they are unsealed. If they are not public, I wouldn’t know,” she said.
Sealed warrants mean that the judges have granted a request by the Office of the Prosecutor, but the details are not immediately made public.
Investigations by the Star indicate that the sealed warrants were issued over an alleged multi-million-shilling bribery scheme to influence the withdrawal of prosecution witnesses in the case.
Reliable sources indicated two of the suspects Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda wants charged are Ruto’s aides while the third is his close business associate.
Details of the fourth suspect remain scant.
“The Chamber notes the element of systematicity of the interference of several witnesses in this case, which gives rise to the impression of an attempt to methodically target witnesses of this case in order to hamper the proceedings,” the ICC judges ruled in August as they admitted prior recorded testimony against the DP.
First to be slapped with an arrest warrant was journalist Walter Barasa.
Two months ago, the Court unsealed two warrants, against lawyer Paul Gicheru and Philip Kipkoech Bett.
Bensouda is now knocking on Ruto’s door and those in the know say she could be laying the ground to charge Ruto with offences against the administration of justice.
The ICC has rejected Barasa’s request for a revocation of the arrest warrant and a substitution with summons to appear, insisting the journalist can only be granted interim release once he has surrendered and been detained.
However, his lawyer Nick Kaufman told the Star the ICC was being unfair to his client.
“Walter Barasa is ready to present himself before the Court, at any time, on the same terms of surrender offered to the principal suspects in the Kenya situation who, it should be stressed, were charged with far more serious crimes,” Kaufman told the Star.
“The ICC is duty bound to respect the law and Judiciary of Kenya and those very same mechanisms have granted Walter Barasa provisional protection from arrest. Walter Barasa will continue to claim his innocence and rights under the law,” he said.