Bensouda claims Yebei was bribing, threatening prosecution witnesses
International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has denied allegations that her office was involved in the murder of ICC witness Meshack Yebei.
A statement released on Friday from the Office of the Prosecutor termed the allegations that the office was involved in Yebei’s abduction and murder as “outrageous and utterly false.”
Bensouda confirmed that Yebei was amongst those contacted to testify in the prosecution case against Ruto and his co-accused Joshua Sang, however he was dropped from the list for allegedly interfering with witnesses.
“Mr. Yebei was ultimately not included on the Prosecution’s list of trial witnesses due to, amongst other reasons, information indicating that Mr. Yebei was deeply implicated in the scheme to corrupt Prosecution witnesses in the case against Mr. Ruto and Mr. Sang.”
“Prosecution witnesses in this case have been under siege. The Office of the Prosecutor has identified a network of individuals who have been working together to sabotage the Prosecution’s case against Messrs. Ruto and Sang, by using bribes and/or threats to either dissuade witnesses from testifying in this case or influence Prosecution witnesses to recant their testimony,” the statement reads.
Bensouda further said that following the issuance of a warrant of arrest for journalist Walter Barasa on August 2, for similar allegations, the office has continued to monitor and investigate other incidents of witness interference. Barasa is yet to be arrested and handed to ICC.
“Investigations and prosecutions before the International Criminal Court can stand or fall on the willingness of witnesses to come forward and present their evidence in the courtroom. The Office of the Prosecutor will continue to do everything in its power to ensure that witnesses are able to present their evidence before the Court without fear,” she added.
Yebei’s mutilated body was retrieved from the River Yala bridge by police in Nandi county on Saturday.
On Wednesday last week, the Star exclusively reported how Yebei was dramatically abducted by people who later pretended to be ICC investigators in SMS messages to his mother and a friend.
Deputy President William Ruto who is facing charges at the ICC said later that Yebei was his witness.