A Kenyan lawyer, Paul Gicheru accused of bribing and intimidating witnesses in the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecution of President William Ruto has been found dead, a police officer said Tuesday.
Gicheru, who was in his 50s, was found dead in his sleep on Monday night at his home in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.
ICC prosecutors accused the deceased of setting up a “blatant and prejudicial” witness tampering scheme that made it “impossible” to pursue investigations against Mr. Ruto for his alleged role in Kenya’s 2007-2008 post-election violence.
Mr. Gicheru’s trial began in February in The Hague. Prosecutors have alleged that the lawyer bribed witnesses with up to one million Kenyan shillings (about 8,300 euros) and threatened others, including one at gunpoint.
Gicheru denied the charges, pleading not guilty before the ICC, based in The Hague.
Post-election violence between late 2007 and early 2008 left more than 1,300 people dead and 600,000 displaced in Kenya after the 2007 elections.
In 2014, the ICC dropped the case against then-President Uhuru Kenyatta on suspicion of crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the violence.
Then, in April 2016, it dismissed the case against Vice President William Ruto and radio presenter Joshua Arap Sang, who was prosecuted in the same case.
Gicheru had “set up a system to identify, locate and corruptly influence” witnesses in the trial against William Ruto and Joshua Sang, Deputy Prosecutor James Stewart said in 2016.
Meanwhile, the Kenyan Human Rights Commission urged authorities on Twitter to “conduct a prompt and conclusive investigation” into the cause of death while expressing “concern over this shocking news.”