Statement of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, on the Warrant of Arrest issued against Walter Barasa
The Government of Kenya has received a warrant for the immediate arrest and transfer of Walter Barasa to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to face criminal charges. There is evidence to suggest that Walter Barasa tried to bribe someone he thought was a Prosecution witness in the case against Mr. Ruto.
The Office of the Prosecutor is taking action against those who are alleged to be corruptly influencing Prosecution witnesses.
The Prosecution has conducted a comprehensive investigation on the basis of documented allegations of witness interference, which continues to date. The evidence collected so far indicates that there is a network of people who are trying to sabotage the case against Mr. Ruto et al. by interfering with Prosecution witnesses. Walter Barasa, against whom compelling evidence has been collected, has been part of this network, and his actions fit into this wider scheme that the Office continues to investigate.
Under Article 70 of the Rome Statute, using bribes or threats to influence witnesses to change or recant their testimony is a crime. If found guilty, Walter Barasa faces up to five years in prison, a fine, or both.
We expect Kenyan authorities to arrest Walter Barasa and hand him over to the Court. He will appear before ICC judges on charges of corruptly influencing and attempting to corruptly influence a person he believed to be a Prosecution witnesses.
The warrant was issued by the Single Judge of the Pre-Trial Chamber after he determined, on the basis of the evidence, that there are reasonable grounds to believe that Walter Barasa corruptly influenced or attempted to influence a person he thought was a Prosecution witness.
During an initial hearing before ICC Judges, Walter Barasa will be informed of the crimes which he is alleged to have committed and of his rights under the Rome Statute. His plea will be entered and the Judges will then set a date for a hearing on the charges. At this subsequent hearing, the Judges will hear submissions from both the Prosecution and Walter Barasa’s Defence on whether his case should go to trial. If the charges are confirmed, the judges will set a trial date. These are the next steps in the case against Walter Barasa.
In the meantime, we continue to monitor and investigate all incidents of witness interference.
The issuance of an arrest warrant in this case should be a warning to others who may be involved in obstructing the course of justice through intimidating, harassing, bribing or attempting to bribe ICC witnesses. My Office will continue to do everything it can to ensure that witnesses are able to present their evidence before the Court without fear. Witnesses who have courage to come forward to testify deserve no less.
The ability of the Court to determine the truth in the Kenyan cases depends on the willingness of witnesses to come forward and present their evidence in the courtroom. I admire and am grateful for the moral courage displayed by the witnesses involved in these cases.
Through my Office, I will do all within my power to protect the integrity of our cases and ensure that justice is allowed to run its course unobstructed.