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International Criminal Court unseals arrest warrant for 2 Kenyans accused of bribing witnesses


THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The International Criminal Court unsealed an arrest warrant Thursday for two Kenyans suspected of bribing prosecution witnesses in return for withdrawing from cases or recanting their testimony.

Judges unsealed the warrant for Paul Gicheru and Philip Kipkoech Bett after the suspects were arrested in July by Kenyan police, according to court papers.

Prosecutors' cases in Kenya, which focus on postelection violence in 2007-08 that left more than 1,000 people dead, have been beset by claims of witness interference.

Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda called the court's decision to issue the warrants a significant step toward protecting the court's integrity.

In a written statement, Bensouda said her investigations in Kenya "have been methodically undermined by a relentless campaign that has targeted individuals who are perceived to be prosecution witnesses, with threats or offers of bribes, to dissuade them from testifying or persuade witnesses to recant their prior testimony."

In March, the court dropped a case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta for lack of evidence. Prosecutors had alleged that Kenyatta helped organize violence in the aftermath of his country's 2007 election — a charge he denied.

Court spokesman Fadi El Abdallah said it is not clear where Gicheru and Bett are now. A third Kenyan suspect, Walter Barasa, was accused two years ago of interfering with witnesses. He has not yet been sent to the court.

"I trust that the Kenyan authorities will fulfil their obligations under the Rome Statute to ensure the surrender of all three suspects to the custody of the court so that their guilt or innocence on the charges against them may be determined in a court of law," Bensouda said.

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