NAIROBI, Kenya, May 29 – The Court of Appeal has now blocked the arrest and extradition of former journalist Walter Barasa to the International Criminal Court.
The three-judge bench directed parties in the case to file submissions within 28 days, after which a hearing date will be set on a priority basis.
Barasa, through lawyer Kibe Mungai, argues that the order for his extradition was illegal since he was never given a hearing by the High Court.
Barasa is contesting a ruling issued in October last year that allowed Interior Minister Joseph ole Lenku to commence ex-parte extradition proceedings against him.
He contends that the order was unconstitutional since the court declined to hear his application and for documents to be submitted by the International Criminal Court.
He argues that there are no rules for his extradition under the statute, and that the judge invented his own rules which formed a basis for his May 14 judgement that allowed his arrest and extradition to The Hague.
Barasa has been in and out of the courts since the ICC unsealed a warrant for his arrest last year.
The court accuses him of bribing prosecution witnesses with between Sh1 million and Sh1.5 million 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 was 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, identified as P0256, could be bribed in order to withdraw her evidence.
“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,” the court ruled.
Barasa is accused of committing the crimes on diverse dates between May 20 and July 21 last year but he has vehemently denied the accusations saying that an official from the court has been threatening him.