, NAIROBI, Oct 2 – A former Kenyan journalist accused of witness intimidation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Wednesday denied any wrongdoing.
“I have not violated any law… Why should I be arrested?” Walter Barasa told AFP, after The Hague-based ICC issued an arrest warrant on charges he tried to bribe witnesses in the crimes against humanity trial of Deputy President William Ruto.
Walter Barasa, 41, “is charged with several offences against the administration of justice including corruptly influencing or attempting to corruptly influence ICC witnesses,” The Hague-based ICC said in a statement.
Former journalist Barasa has allegedly “been and is still acting in furtherance of a criminal scheme devised by a circle of officials within the Kenyan administration,” the court said, without elaborating.
The warrant, the first by the 10-year-old court for alleged witness interference, was issued on August 2 but the court only decided to make it public on Wednesday.
Barasa allegedly offered to pay three witnesses at least Sh1.4 million “to withdraw as ICC prosecution witnesses in the context of the Kenyan cases”.
Barasa is described in court documents as a “former intermediary for the prosecution” in Kenya, meaning he liaised between witnesses and ICC prosecutors.
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has said in the past that witness intimidation in cases against Kenya’s two top politicians has reached “unprecedented levels”.
“It is the prosecutor’s submission that attempts to interfere with prosecution witnesses ‘have escalated both in frequency and seriousness’…between 20 May and 25 July 2013, making it necessary to proceed to the arrest of Walter Barasa on an urgent basis,” prosecutors said in their application for the warrant.
When contacted by AFP, Barasa denied the charge and said he had never met Ruto.
“I have not violated any law… Why should I be arrested?” he asked.
He alleged that an ICC investigator had tried to get him to confess to working for Ruto.
“I told him to go ahead and issue the warrant,” Barasa said.