International Criminal Court’s star witness against lawyer Paul Gicheru asked for financial help from the lawyer to foot his uncle’s medical bill.
During the third day of Mr Gicheru’s trial, it emerged that the first witness P-0800 had asked for the lawyer’s mobile number from another witness and when he got it, sent Gicheru a text asking him for money to pay the relative’s medical bills.
The witness admitted that he sent the text but never got a reply from the lawyer.
“I want to pick up where we left off yesterday and this was concerning your representation that at some point you sent SMS message to Mr Gicheru because of a relative being in the hospital and needing to pay medical bills,” Gicheru’s lawyer, Michael Karvanas, asked.
When pressed by Karvanas, the witness asked the Trial Chamber III Judge Maria Samba to go into a private session for fear that his uncle and people at his home would identify him.
But Karvanas protested saying that he needed to question him in full glare of the world and particularly Kenyans. “I’m not intending to make reference to the names. It is important to get this on record in front of the people in Kenya and around the world. He has come here, he has made allegations. I am well aware of his need for protection,” Karvanas argued.
It also emerged that he had many sim cards and mobile phones despite being under ICC witness protection unit. The witness claimed that he had to change sim cards for security reasons.
However, the court heard that he talked to a witness code-named person number 17 without the knowledge of witness protection handlers.
“You had many phones and many sim cards that you hadn’t told investigators about?” asked Karvanas.
The witness replied: “I communicate without informing them that I was changing numbers, where I felt matters of security start with myself.”
Asked why he kept changing the numbers after communicating with other witnesses, he said:
“I changed the number was because I communicated with them but I did not know who else they communicated with.”
At the same time, he used his personal phone to communicate instead of the one that the Office of the Prosecutor investigators had provided him with. He instead gave his wife to use the phone he had been given.
The chamber heard that the witness gave a contradictory account on the number of mobile phones. During the Deputy President William Ruto and Joshua arap Sang’s trial, he claimed he had many mobile numbers and sim cards.
It was alleged that investigators could not trust him as he had six mobile phones and was talking to persons he had been warned not to communicate with.
“Do you remember how many phones you had and sim cards?” Karvanas asked.
P-0800 replied: “I do not remember.”
From the onset, the lawyer cast doubt on the witness’ testimony.
P-0800 was accused of double-dealing, on one hand assisting the prosecution and on the other being involved with machinery to tamper witnesses in the Ruto and Sang’s case. Karvanas asked P-0800 whether he was believed he was a truthful person. The witness replied to the affirmative.
It is claimed that P-0800 was offered between Sh1.5 million and Sh2.5 million. This was in July 2013.
This witness claimed that he was first called on the phone by a ‘person two’ and a physical meeting was arranged. According to him, he then met with person two in person.
Yesterday, marked the second day of a tense and heated exchange between the witness and Gicheru’s lawyer.
Karvanas referred the witness as pesky and feisty.
The witness on the other and accused the lawyer of trying to lure him to give evidence that would end up putting him in problems.
“I refuse that the counsel can lead my answers to a point where I can self incriminate by giving answers. I don’t want to get myself into problems having answered otherwise,” stated P-0800.
The judge had to intervene.
She said: “When you started testifying here, counsel for the prosecution introduced certain statements or documents to you… It is not that he wants to incriminate you.”
The exchange started with Karvanas informing P-0800 that he was just a lawyer and not “your honour” as the witness kept referring to him.
But the trial would get even more tense when Karvanas pressed the witness to explain if he was a truthful person.
“I have not manufactured anything to implicate anyone or to have someone appear here as a witness,” claimed P-0800.
In some instances, Judge Samba had to ask the witness to be calm.
The witness asked the court to intervene as Karvanas was constantly referrring to him as a liar.