August 24, 2010 (WASHINGTON) — The judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC) rejected two motions submitted this month calling for the court to condemn prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo over an article he authored in the UK based Guardian newspaper last month.
International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo (AP)Ocampo’s article was published following a long sought decision by the court charging Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir with three counts of genocide in Darfur. This was in addition to seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity already included in Bashir’s warrant of arrest.
The first motion filed on July 30th by Sudan Workers Trade Unions Federation (SWTUF) and the Sudan International Defense Group (SIDG) asked the Pre-Trial Chamber I to review Ocampo’s statements in the article “and decide on an appropriate course of action”.
“It is evident from the article of 15 July 20 I0 that the Prosecutor may be seeking to gain support from the international community for his case or to be building public momentum and backing for his allegations that might render dispassionate adjudication by the Trial Chamber more difficult,” said attorney Geoffrey Nice who made the submission on behalf of the two pro-Sudan groups.
Nice asserted that Ocampo has went to give the impression that Bashir has already been convicted of genocide which was not the case at this stage of the proceedings.
The Rome Statute which forms the basis of the ICC, states that a warrant is to be issued if there is “reasonable evidence” to believe that the individual has committed the crime alleged by the prosecutor.
At the subsequent stages of confirmation hearings and the trial, a higher threshold of evidence is required to indict the suspect.
Nice also referred in his filing to a ruling by the Trial Chamber in the separate case of Congolese militia leader Thomas Lubanga, where the judges reprimanded one of Ocampo’s aides over the content of an interview she made which was deemed to compromise the integrity and fairness of the judicial process.
However, on August 6 the ICC judge decided that the submission was inadmissible because SWTUF and SIDG failed to identify the issue requiring determination by the chamber and also because they did not request a leave to submit an observation on the matter.
Furthermore, the judge determined that the submission fell “outside the scope and purpose of rule 103” which allows third parties to file motions on a specific case.
Today the judge rejected a similar motion by Michelyne C. St-Laurent, the court’s ad-hoc defence lawyer for Bashir, regarding Ocampo’s article saying that this fell outside her mandate which is to protect the interests of the defence “only within the context and for the purposes of the proceedings related to victims’ applications for participation”.