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ICC's Ocampo's Cape Town Times As Darfur Was Sent His Way Is Shown by Rejected Complaint

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, July 18, updated in August -- As the UN Security Council voted in the Spring of 2005 to refer the situation in Darfur to International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, he was in Cape Town, South Africa telling a female journalist she had to come to his hotel room and have sex with him in order to get her car keys back, according to a rejected complaint filed by then-close Ocampo aide Christian Palme.  Mr. Palme attached to his complaint transcripts of recordings surreptitiously made by him and, he claims, Ocampo's then-spokesman Yves Sorokobi, who is now with the Office of the Spokesperson for United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York.

   At a July 17 press conference at UN Headquarters, Ocampo was asked about the complaint, and a July 9 International Labor Organization ruling award back pay and "moral damages" to Palme, for the way he was fired. Ocampo called it a "human resources" matter and Sorokobi, who was moderating the press conference, told the questioner to desist and called on the next media organization in line, Inner City Press.

   Normally, a rejected complaint would not appear on this site. But Palme's complaint, and its twelve annexes, paint a picture of Ocampo and his tenure at the ICC that is at odds with the public picture, including in films Ocampo devotes time to appearing in. Inner City Press exclusively obtained the complaint on July 18, and asked Sorokobi to respond to it. Sorokobi emphasizes that he did not collaborate with Palme. That is borne out by the complaint, which states in Paragraph 6 and 9 that

"neither Yves Sorokobi nor [NAME] have assisted me in writing this complaint... Yves Sorokobi, now an associate spokesman of the UN Secretariat in New York, fears that his personal career would be damaged by a complaint against Moreno-Ocampo... it was only with the two meetings with Yves Sorokobi on 30 November 2005 and on hearing the recording of Sorokobi's conversation with [NAME] on 30 March 2005 that I became aware of the full extent of the incident on 28 March 2005."

  On that day, while the Security Council debated a resolution to refer to Ocampo the situation in Darfur for investigation, Ocampo himself was in Cape Town, South Africa.

Moreno-Ocampo and Ban Ki-moon, tape recorders, car keys and whistleblowers not shown

   In summary as the complaint relates events, Ocampo following an interview with a female reporter from a South African newspaper took the woman's

"car keys and proceed[ed] to go to his hotel suite... He refuses to return the keys unless she consents to have sexual intercourse with him.  In order to have her car keys returned to her, [NAME] consents to have sexual intercourse with Moreno-Ocampo... [NAME] leave the hotel suite and immediately calls Sorokobi.. She says 'something horrible happened.'"

   Attached to the complaint as Annex 3 is an email Sorokobi purportedly sent to Palme on March 29, 2005, that recounts "some disturbing (LMO behavior) stuff from [redacted] the [redacted] reporter who interviewed him yesterday. Darryl has been quite busy with lines on the possible Darfur referral."

  Contemporaneous notes taken and submitted by Palme recounts "working on the press release and the Q&A, as usual without any support from Luis. We are almost done with the Q&A, but Luis refuses to approve it even for circulation within the OTP. It seems he is trying to pretend as if nothing is going on and he doesn't understand that when the decision comes we will have numerous calls with questions from media and NGOs."

   While readers will make their own assessment of the credibility of different parts of the complaint, which Inner City Press is putting online here, let us assume that Palme was "gunning for" Ocampo well before the Cape Town incident. Let us assume, as Palme's detractors assert, resentment. Let us note that Palme used Yves Sorokobi in the complaint without Sorokobi's consent, and that as Ocampo's then-spokesman, looking into claims against Ocampo would have been one of Sorokobi's jobs. It seems incontroverted that he took the woman's car keys and thus made her come to his hotel room, and that his then-spokesman tape recorded the woman, at best with an eye toward defending his boss from possible rape charges. Is this the behavior people expect and that State Parties think they are getting from the ICC prosecutor? To be continued.

For now, click here to view the "whistleblower" decision, which Inner City Press obtained and is putting online.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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