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December 12, 2018

Storm at ICC as Bensouda's staff probed over Ocampo, Gaddafi bribery claims

Former ICC chief prosecutor Louis Ocampo with Fatou Bensouda during her swearing-in at the ICC in The Hague on June 15, 2013. /ICC
Former ICC chief prosecutor Louis Ocampo with Fatou Bensouda during her swearing-in at the ICC in The Hague on June 15, 2013. /ICC

A storm has brewed at ICC after documents revealed Moreno Ocampo interfered with prosecutor Fatou Bensouda's work.

There are claims this included bribes to let off a Libyan warlord.

Ocampo, a former prosecutor, is said to have passed sensitive information to a possible war crimes suspect who was secretly paying him for advice.

According to Times media, he had agreed to a contract worth Sh309 million ($3 million) over three years to protect and advise an influential Libyan billionaire who had close links with Muammar Gaddafi. 

The former prosecutor indicted Gaddafi and his son Saif al-Islam for war crimes in 2011 before leaving his job for private practice.

The revelations arose from a cache of 40,000 documents, including personal emails, obtained and processed by European Investigative Collaborations.


In a statement to newsrooms on Friday, ICC said they had strong information security measures and systems to protect the integrity of sensitive information and were not aware of any dealings by Ocampo.

"At the time of Ocampo’s term, this system was not in place, and as such, the court was not aware of any of his private financial arrangements while he served as prosecutor," ICC said.

The court further said they did not know how the documents were obtained and noted their systems were not hacked.

"The Court has carried out additional checks, and to date, there is no indication that its systems have been compromised."


Bensouda said two of her staff members are under investigation following Ocampo bribery claims.

"I have reported allegations implicating two members of my staff to the Independent Oversight Mechanism available to the court within its legal framework," she said.

The chief prosecutor said she takes the claims "very seriously" and added IOM determined there will be a full investigation.

"Pending the results of the investigation, I have taken precautionary measures. As this matter unfolds and the allegations are fairly and properly scrutinised, speculation should not be entertained," he said.

She said her office has not initiated contact, sought advice or collaborated with the former prosecutor since she assumed office.

"I have, in the past, personally made my position on this clear to Ocampo and have asked him, in unequivocal terms, to refrain from any public pronouncement or activity that may, by virtue of his prior role as ICC Prosecutor, be perceived to interfere with the activities of the Office or harm its reputation," she said.


Bensouda said any information communicated to her office is assessed in an independent, impartial and objective manner, strictly within the parameters of the Rome Statute.

"I base all my decisions on my own independent assessments, as the Statute requires me to do as prosecutor," she said.

She said the "unfortunate allegations of concern" will not distract her from striving to create a more just world in accordance with the Rome Statute.

"I will do all within my power, independently, impartially and objectively, to seek the justice we all yearn for, with dedication and integrity," she added.

Bensoudawas the prosecutor in President Uhuru Kenyatta crimes against humanity case but this was dropped the case for lack of enough evidence and political interference.

The case concerned Uhuru's alleged role in post-election violence in 2007/8 when at least 1,200 people died while more than 600,000 were internally displaced.

Bensouda said Uhuru's rise to the presidency was the key factor that led to the collapse of her case against him.

She said after he became president, witnesses refused to testify while the government stopped cooperating with the ICC.

Read: ICC's toughest trial: Africa versus 'Infamous Caucasian Court'

Also read: Uhuru presidential win killed ICC case - Bensouda



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