The Kenya Human Rights Commission called the news of his death “shocking” and urged the authorities to mount a quick investigation. In a statement, the Kenya Bar Association reiterated that callnoted that “several witnesses in ICC cases have disappeared or died”, and wished Mr. Gicheru’s hospitalized son a speedy recovery.
Gicheru’s trial grew out of a series of high-profile trials that implicated some of Kenya’s most prominent politicians in a wave of violence after disputed 2007 elections that killed at least 1,200 people and forced another 600,000 to run away from their homes.
In 2011, the International Criminal Court indicted Mr. Ruto for crimes against humanity over allegations that he orchestrated violence in his home area, the Rift Valley, distributing weapons and issuing assassination lists of opposition supporters from rival ethnic groups. .
Uhuru Kenyatta, Ruto’s political rival at the time, was also indicted on similar charges.
By 2016, the cases against both men collapsed after key witnesses recanted their testimony and the Kenyan government stopped cooperating with the court. By this time, Mr. Ruto and Mr. Kenyatta had resolved their political differences to come together as a formidable force. Together they won the 2013 elections, with Mr. Kenyatta as president and Mr. Ruto as his deputy, and were re-elected in 2017.
The ICC charges not only united the two leaders, but also provided them with a powerful electoral argument. After becoming president in 2013, Mr Kenyatta denounced the court as a “toy of declining imperial powers”.
But in dismissing the charge against Mr. Ruto, the court did not declare him innocent, leaving open the possibility that he could face a new trial. And he had already prosecuted Gicheru, a provincial lawyer from the same area as Ruto, in 2015 over allegations that he ran a witness-tampering scheme responsible for botching the trial.