Lawyer Paul Gicheru’s sudden death at his Karen home on Monday has ignited memories of mysterious deaths of other individuals linked in one way or the other with Kenyan cases at the International Criminal Court.
Like Gicheru’s death whose cause is yet to be known, some of the other individuals who were linked to the ICC cases also died mysteriously.
Gicheru was a suspect at the ICC in relation to the alleged interference of witnesses in the case against President William Ruto and former journalist Joshua Sang. All the cases were dropped for lack of evidence.
The lawyer surrendered to the ICC on November 2, 2020, pursuant to an arrest warrant issued on March 10, 2015, by The Hague.
He was accused of allegedly bribing witnesses to either recant their testimonies or refuse to testify in the crimes against humanity case against Ruto and Sang.
The charges were in relation to the violence that erupted after the 2007 election and the case was still ongoing.
But on September 26, he was found dead at his Karen home.
“He had late lunch and felt unwell and went to bed but he did not wake up,” police said.
On January 6, 2015, the decomposed body of Meshack Yebei, a key witness in the Ruto case, was discovered at Man Eaters Park in Voi by a forest ranger after he was reportedly abducted on December 28, 2014.
The resultant autopsy revealed that he died after being hit on the head with a blunt object.
ICC said it had offered him protection in a safe location but he returned home to his home at Kaptebee village in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu county.
The then Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko ordered police to carry out a “speedy and thorough investigation” into his murder. The murder remains unresolved.
In May 2016, then Cord leader Raila Odinga released the names of ten people he claimed would-be witnesses in Kenya’s ICC cases but he claimed they had disappeared.
He spoke during the requiem mass of slain Nairobi businessman Jacob Juma at the All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi.
In his speech, Raila said there is a system and a philosophy in Kenya which believes in murders, produces murders and believes, wrongly so, that the way to sort out differences and eliminate competition, whether real or imagined, is through extra-judicial killings.
“That philosophy has claimed many lives from independence to date. In the aftermath of the post-election violence, a chain of would-be witnesses were systematically eliminated through extra-judicial killings,” Raila said.
Alongside Yebei, Raila named Njoroge Gichere, George Njoroge Wagacha alias “Afco”, Timothy Mburu Gatira, Anthony Mwenje alias “Noriega”, Maina Diambo, Naftali Irungu alias “Marcus” and Charles Ndungu Wagacha.
Wagacha, then acting Mungiki chairman, and treasurer Irungu, were shot dead on April April 29, 2008 as they drove to Naivasha Prison when they were killed.
Raila also named Njuguna Gitau Njuguna and John Kituyi, a former editor and publisher for the Mirror Weekly who lived in Eldoret.
Kituyi, 61, was killed on April 30, 2015, at Eldoret’s Pioneer estate, three months after Yebei.
His family said he was walking home in the evening when assailants pounced on him, hitting him severely on the head.
His third-born daughter, Angela, told reporters she received a call from a boda boda operator familiar to his father at around 8.30 pm informing him that his father had been seriously injured and rushed to hospital.
“We rushed to the hospital and found doctors trying to resuscitate him,” she said.
At the Reale Hospital where the journalist was rushed, the ICU was fully booked.
He was taken to Eldoret Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.
There was, however, no official confirmation that the individuals named by Raila were ICC witnesses.