The International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website; JURIST backgrounder] issued an arrest warrant [document, PDF; press release] on Tuesday for a man accused of tampering with prosecution witnesses in a case against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto [ICC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. The ICC issued the warrant against Walter Barasa, whom the ICC accuses of attempting to bribe prosecution witnesses [BBC report] and participating in a scheme by Kenyan government officials to interfere with the prosecution. In the press release accompanying the arrest warrant, the ICC explained that Barasa's arrest is necessary to ensure that he does not hinder ICC judicial proceedings:
Based on the Prosecutor's evidence, [the ICC judge] found that it is necessary to arrest Walter Osapiri Barasa to ensure his appearance at trial, to ensure that he does not obstruct or endanger the investigation or the proceedings, and to prevent him from continuing with the commission of the crime.If convicted, Barasa faces a maximum prison sentence of five years.
Ruto is on trial for three counts of crimes against humanity for allegedly fomenting violence following the 2007 elections, leading to the deaths of at least 1,100 people and the displacement of more than 600,000. Last week the ICC ordered Ruto's trial to resume in the first week of October [JURIST report]. Earlier in September Ruto pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to the charges. Also this month Kenya's National Assembly voted to withdraw from the ICC [JURIST report; JURIST op-ed]. In June the ICC conditionally granted Ruto's request [JURIST report] to be excused from parts of his trial. Ruto is the first senior serving politician to appear in an international court. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta [official website] is also charged with crimes against humanity, but his trial is not set to begin until November 12.