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ICC's Moreno Ocampo Learned Nothing from Lubanga Case, Laughs at Retaliation Finding

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

UNITED NATIONS, December 3 -- The day before he indicted Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, Luis Moreno Ocampo of the International Criminal Court was found by the International Labor Organization to have retaliated against a whistleblower, who was awarded 200,000 Euros including 25,000 Euros in "moral damages." On Wednesday at the UN, Inner City Press asked Moreno Ocampo, "Did you learn anything" from the ILO's criticism, and from the suspension of the cases against Thomas Lubanga of the Congo, for failure to turn over exculpatory evidence?

  Moreno Ocampo would not admit any error in either case; in fact, he laughed at the finding of retaliation. Video here, from Minute 21:11. When asked if the finding against him impairs his or the ICC's work, or is brought up as he travels the world explaining his questionable legal strategies for example in the Lubanga case, Moreno Ocampo said, "When I come here, you ask me questions about it."  Perhaps most amazingly, after saying that the state parties of the ICC paid the 200,000 Euros judgment to the whistleblower he fired, Moreno Ocampo said on camera that the charges against him had been "manifestly unfounded." Video here, from Minute 37:33.

  Such a dismissive attitude to judicial findings, and such misleading statements about a ruling, Moreno Ocampo would be sure to criticize in any of his indictees. How then does he engage in them? And how could this behavior by the ICC's chief prosecutor be curtailed? Or is he above the law?

Moreno Ocampo at the UN on Dec. 3: I have learned nothing from Lubango or ILO

  Earlier this year, Inner City Press published verbatim quotes by the head of the Coalition for the ICC, comments made after a press conference at the UN.  This Coalition's spokeswoman then called Inner City Press asking that the quotes be stricken. This reflects the unwillingness of those who are supposed to directly and indirectly oversee Moreno Ocampo to be seen as criticizing him, for fear of being misunderstood to be criticizing international justice, or as supporting al-Bashir. 

  But Moreno Ocampo's behavior, including that underlying the ILO's 200,000 Euro judgment, injure the reputation and integrity of the international criminal justice system. Substantively, a prosecutor who jeopardized the case against an alleged child soldier recruiter like Lubanga, and then says he had nothing to learn from the delay and criticism by judges, should not continue as prosecutor.  But who will tell him?

  Sitting next to Moreno Ocampo at Wednesday's news conference was the State Parties' Christian Wenaweser, of Liechtenstein. Even as Moreno Ocampo made light of the 200,000 Euro judgment, paid not by him but by the State Parties, Wenaweser said nothing.

   In September, the former foreign minister of a Pacific country which supports the ICC told Inner City Press that Moreno Ocampo had been telling diplomats that he had offered to Bashir not to indict him, if he turned over the two previously indictees Kushayb and Harun. Inner City Press asked Moreno Ocampo, and he denied it, saying, "I never did it, I cannot offer."  Those who make decisions about the ICC and its prosecutor will have to assess Moreno Ocampo's credibility.

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

Click here for Inner City Press Nov. 7 debate on the war in Congo

Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on UN, bailout, MDGs

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

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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