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Kenyan Lawyer Charged With Bribing Witnesses in President’s ICC Case Found Dead


FILE - Kenyan lawyer Paul Gicheru listens to charges against him in the case against President William Ruto at the opening hearing at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, Feb. 15, 2022.

A Kenyan lawyer charged with bribing and threatening witnesses and expected to testify against the country’s current president, William Ruto, has been found dead, according to police.

It was not immediately clear what caused the death of 50-year-old Paul Gicheru death; a police spokesman did not respond to VOA’s calls.

The Kenyan Human Rights Commission described the death of Gicheru, who faced a trial before the International Criminal Court for alleged witness tampering, as a "shock" and “unfortunate.”

"We received this news in shock yesterday because the way it was reported, you know, he was found dead at his house with foam coming out of his mouth," said Martin Mavenjina, a senior program advisor for the commission.

“It’s unfortunate that he has passed on under mysterious circumstances,” Mavenjina said. “At no point in time have we been informed that Paul Gicheru had any health conditions or underlying health conditions or was sick at any point in time.”

Gicheru was facing charges of bribing and threatening witnesses in a case against Kenya’s newly-elected president, William Ruto, and broadcaster Joshua Sang.

Ruto and Sang were among several Kenyans, including former president Uhuru Kenyatta, who were charged with prompting violence in the 2007 disputed election.

Street clashes over the election left more than 1,000 people dead and hundreds of thousands displaced.

The ICC declared a mistrial in 2016, citing witness tampering, and a trial against Gicheru and Sang began in February with Gicheru pleading not guilty.

ICC spokesperson Fadi El Abdallah told VOA he could not comment on Gicheru's case until the confirmation of Gicheru’s death was submitted by Kenyan authorities to the trial chamber.

The Law Society of Kenya issued a statement urging the inspector general of the National Police Service to ensure that thorough investigations are conducted. The society said there is significant “public interest” knowing what caused Gicheru’s death, as several witnesses in the ICC cases have either disappeared or died.

The group also wished a speedy recovery to Gicheru’s son, who was reportedly in the same house as his father at the time of his death and who has been admitted to the hospital in critical condition.

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