ICC wants Kenyan arrested over witness ‘bribery’

Among the witnesses who were allegedly offered bribes is P0536 - who is the first to testify against Ruto and his co accused Joshua arap Sang/FILE

Among the witnesses who were allegedly offered bribes is P0536 – who is the first to testify against Ruto and his co accused Joshua arap Sang/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 2 – The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued a warrant for the arrest of activist Walter Osapiri Barasa, accusing him of bribing Prosecution witnesses with between Sh1mn and Sh1.5mn for them to withdraw their evidence in the case against Deputy President William Ruto.

Among the witnesses who were allegedly offered bribes is P0536 – who is the first to testify against Ruto and his co accused Joshua arap Sang.

A document from the ICC shows that she was offered Sh1.4 million to recant her evidence while another witness only identified as P0336 was offered between Sh1 million and Sh1.5 million to pull out.

The 41-year old former journalist is also accused of organising a meeting where another witness, only identified as P0256, could be bribed in order to withdraw her evidence.

Judge Cuno Tarfusser issued the warrant against Barasa on August 2 but it was unsealed on Wednesday. The court wants him arrested to ensure that he does not obstruct justice any further.

“Walter Barasa is criminally responsible as a direct perpetrator for the crime of corruptly influencing or, alternatively, attempting to corruptly influence witnesses by offering to pay them to withdraw as ICC Prosecution witnesses in the context of the Kenyan cases before the ICC,” said the judge.

Barasa is accused of committing the crimes on diverse dates between May 20 and July 21 this year but he has vehemently denied the accusations saying that an official from the court has been threatening him.

Speaking to Capital FM News, he said that he was not afraid of being arrested because he had nothing to hide.

“That man was telling me to accept that I am being used by Ruto to get to witnesses but I told him that I have never even met the Deputy President. So I told him to go and issue that warrant of arrest but I’m on my way to Nairobi (from Eldoret) to come and address a press conference,” he said.

“I have not committed any crime and I did not play any role in the post election violence so I will not hide myself. I am coming to Nairobi.”

The judge said that the Prosecution had provided sufficient evidence to show that Barasa corruptly influenced Prosecution witnesses and has been working in cahoots with other officials within the Kenyan administration.

Barasa, who is also an activist in Eldoret, becomes the first suspect to be charged by the court with an offence against the administration of justice.

He faces three counts – two accusing him of corruptly influencing a witness while the third accuses him of attempting to corruptly influence a witness.

The Office of the Prosecutor has time and again expressed concern that its witnesses were being threatened and coerced to withdraw their accounts in the Kenyan cases.

“Allegedly, he has been and is still acting in furtherance of a criminal scheme devised by a circle of officials within the Kenyan administration,” observed Judge Tarfusser.

Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda wants Barasa to be arrested immediately and transferred to The Hague-based court for prosecution.

Barasa faces up to five years in prison, a fine, or both if he is found guilty.

“There is evidence to suggest that Walter Barasa tried to bribe someone he thought was a Prosecution witness in the case against Mr Ruto,” said Bensouda.

“We expect Kenyan authorities to arrest Walter Barasa and hand him over to the court.”

Barasa previously worked as a journalist for the Daily Nation before joining the People Daily.

  • Liz Charlotte

    Another Kenyan hague bound. Choices have consequences.

    • Nico

      Will be interesting to see if the Kenyan authorities arrest this individual as per Rome Statute

      • Liz Charlotte

        This is indeed the litmus test for co-operation with ICC. Let’s watch

  • Mzalendo African

    Can the Kenya High court establish that there is enough evidence to haul Mr Walter Barasa to a foreign court? He is a Kenyan Citizen first and has rights under the 2010 constitution to be protect by the state. Yes he is a suspect but to a foreign court. Due prudence must be followed…..

    • Qwani

      That is very true. He is a Kenyan citizen. Let that evidence be presented to the High Court in broad daylight and Barasa be allowed to defend himself.

    • Lucy

      yes you are right. he is Kenya and needs protection

  • Kwessi Pratt

    First fatal shot has been fired against guys contemptuous of ICC. This Barasa fellow will helplessly watch things go the wrong way. That he thought was secure in his designs is not in doubt at all. Charges faces our leaders are too grave to be treated with sort of hostility we are witnessing. A more friendly approach might have done the trick. However, imagining ICC is another Milimani commercial court, where bulldozing matters of the high and mighty is quite easy, is a very serious miscalculation indeed.

  • kiptrying

    at this rate then, kenya’s sovereignty is questionable..when was the investigations done and by who if the govt wasn’t aware?

  • Natty Dread

    Walter Barasa was an ‘intermediary’ hired by the ICC to locate witnesses and ensure their compliance. That role requires a lot of money in the form of inflated travel and accommodation expenses, as well as direct inducements to the witnesses.

    The pot and the kettle are about to meet in court. I hope that the process with not be in so-called ‘private sessions’.

    • Qwani

      This whole saga is very fishy. Somehow it looks like the ICC is trying to shut him up by having him taken to the ICC. Let him be tried here so that we can hear all the evidence in broad daylight.

      • Nico

        The ICC will surely guarantee worldwide diffusion, rather than just Kenya, for him to defend himself and for others to air the accusations

  • Qwani

    We must be careful not to take in everything that the OTP throws out there. Let us take some time to hear what Walter Barasa has to say. It is important to hear both sides of the story before passing judgement.

  • CHRIS OJOW WUOD UGENYA

    CHOICES HAVE CONSEQUENCES.