Arusha, October 2, 2013 (FH) – The International Criminal Court (ICC) today unsealed an arrest warrant against Kenyan Walter Barasa for “corruptly influencing or attempting to corruptly influence ICC witnesses”. This is the first time the ICC has issued an arrest warrant for offences against the administration of justice.

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The arrest warrant was issued on August 2, 2013, according to an ICC press statement. Issuing the warrant, the pre-trial Chamber deemed there were reasonable grounds to believe Barasa was corruptly influencing witnesses by “offering to pay them to withdraw as ICC Prosecution witnesses in the context of the Kenyan cases before the ICC. Allegedly, he has been and is still acting in furtherance of a criminal scheme devised by a circle of officials within the Kenyan administration”.

Based on the Prosecutor’s evidence, the single judge of the pre-trial Chamber also considered 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”.

In a separate statement, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said the Kenyan government has received the warrant for Barasa’s arrest and that “we expect Kenyan authorities to arrest Walter Barasa and hand him over to the Court”.  The statement says there is evidence Barasa tried to bribe someone he thought was a Prosecution witness in the case against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto.

Bensouda said the Office of the Prosecutor is taking action against those who are alleged to be corruptly influencing prosecution witnesses, and that “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”.