Friday, April 03, 2009

ICC's Ocampo: "What happened in Darfur is the consequence of extermination plan defined by the top authority -- Mr. Omar el-Bashir"

British Palestinian QC Michel Massih, who is leading Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir's international defence team, has criticized the way the International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo publicized his accusations against the Sudanese president. Massih, who has been practicing international law for 30 years, told Arab News Broadcast, “I have never heard in my legal career of a chief prosecutor that launches media campaigns against a defendant, regardless of the nature of the charges.”

Note the following report from Voice of America News and the quotes that I have highlighted in red. Not much of it makes sense to me. One wonders if Mr Moreno-Ocampo is mentally unhinged.

From Voice of America News
ICC Chief Prosecutor: Sudan's Bashir Will Face Justice
By Lisa Bryant
03 April 2009
ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo

Photo: ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo gives a press conference in The Hague, 04 Mar 2009

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir continues to defy an international arrest warrant, recently returning from an Arab League meeting in Qatar. But the chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, says he is confident Mr. Bashir will be brought to justice. Lisa Bryant spoke with Moreno-Ocampo in The Hague.

The International Criminal Court issued the arrest warrant against Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir in early March. It is the first arrest warrant against a sitting head of state and charges the Sudanese leader with war crimes and crimes against humanity. Those crimes center of the conflict in Darfur, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced almost three million.

But so far, the only major impact the arrest warrant seems to have generated is Mr. Bashir's decision to expel more than a dozen international humanitarian groups working in Darfur, a desolate, impoverished stretch of land in western Sudan.

Since the arrest warrant was issued, the Sudanese president has so far visited Egypt, Eritrea, Libya and Saudi Arabia. He also attended an Arab League meeting in Qatar -- where Arab leaders, at least publicly, expressed their solidarity for Mr. Bashir. None of these countries are members of the Hague-based court.

But the man who delivered the warrant -- the criminal court's chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo -- is adamant he did the right thing. He directly blames Mr. Bashir for the Darfur crisis.

"What happened in Darfur is not a humanitarian crisis. What happened in Darfur is not crimes committed by autonomous militias. What happened in Darfur is the consequence of extermination plan defined by the top authority -- Mr. Omar el-Bashir," he said.

Mr. Bashir is one of the first cases the Netherlands-based criminal court has taken on since it began holding trials this year. The court is the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal. Moreno-Ocampo says the United Nations Security Council referred the Darfur crisis to the court. In issuing the arrest warrant, he said, the court has done its job.

Now, he says, it's up to the international community to act.

"We are not calling for military intervention. We are not calling for bombing. But we are also not calling for nothing. We are not calling for denial. We are not calling for silence. between bombing and nothing there are a lot of alternatives," he said.

Moreno-Ocampo says there has already been some reaction, with countries calling on Sudan to explain its decision to expel humanitarian workers. He suggests Arab countries are also quietly criticizing Sudan -- even as they present a united face in public.

And he believes that sooner or later, the court will try President Bashir.

"Omar el-Bashir knows his destiny is to face justice. He's tainted now. The problem is, how many people will die in the [meantime]," he said.

For its part, the United Nations warns that expelling foreign relief workers from Darfur could have a devastating impact on those living there. Mr. Bashir claim the workers were spies who helped the court mount war crimes charges against him.
Further reading:

Apr 03, 2009 - Sudan Watch: ICC's Registrar returns from fact-finding mission concerning Sudanese refugees in Treguine and Breddjing camps in Chad

Apr 02, 2009 - Making Sense of Darfur: A Waste of Hope by Julie Flint and Alex de Waal. Copy:
Those who believe in justice, truth and accountability should demand the highest professional and ethical standards of the Prosecutor of the ICC. Any failings in these respects can do incalculable damage to the prospects for justice, and the future of the ICC. We believe that the Prosecutor of the ICC isn’t up to the job and it is time to be frank about his shortcomings. And we are not alone. Many groups that support the ICC publicly are privately concerned by Luis Moreno Ocampo’s management of the Court. Some of his most capable and committed staff have quit, in exasperation and despair at his performance. Kofi Annan described the ICC as a ‘gift of hope’ to the world. It can still become that. You can read our account in World Affairs.
Apr 02, 2009 - Sudan Watch: British lawyer leading Sudanese president's int'l defence team says Article 6 of UN Security Resolution 1593 is meaningless

Apr 01, 2009 - Sudan Watch: If UN Security Council does not cancel ICC proceedings against Sudan's Bashir, ICC or its Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo must go

Mar 27, 2009 - Sudan Watch: Making Sense of Darfur: Grading the ICC Prosecutor-And the Bench (Alex de Waal and Julie Flint)

Mar 21, 2009 - Sudan Watch: ICC's Ocampo denies getting any help or information from NGOs in Darfur and says Sudan expulsions 'confirm crimes'. Excerpt:
Note that a report filed here at Sudan Watch [March 04, 2009 -
Waging Peace submitted more than 500 children’s drawings of Darfur that were accepted by ICC as evidence in any trial] claims that last year, UK based rights group Waging Peace submitted more than 500 children’s pictures of Darfur war that were accepted by the ICC as contextual evidence to be used in any trial. Waging Peace collected the drawings from refugees in Chad.
Jan 26, 2009 - Sudan Watch: ICC's case against Sudan's President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir is a mess riddled with flaws - UNSC must invoke Article 16

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