Workaholic ICC prosecutor hunts war criminals

Thu Apr 1, 2010 9:53am EDT
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By Aaron Gray-Block

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A track record of championing victims' rights and a disregard for politics are hallmarks of the hard-talking International Criminal Court prosecutor who is now opening an investigation into ethnic killings in Kenya.

"My duty is to apply the law without political considerations," Luis Moreno-Ocampo said in a speech in 2007. "Law is the only efficient way to prevent recurrent violence and atrocities."

That approach has earned the Argentine national both admiration and criticism.

Some legal observers have argued the court's actions risk prolonging conflict by jeopardizing peace deals, such as in Sudan's Darfur region or in Uganda, where charges have been made against Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army.

But Moreno-Ocampo, 57, has pushed ahead, not only expanding the number of ICC cases, but also winning a ruling in February opening up the possibility of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir being charged with genocide in Darfur.

In an interview after that ruling in his office in The Hague, Moreno-Ocampo warned Bashir had better "get a lawyer."

"He will just totally ignore the political considerations, so it is very stimulating and reassuring to work for a very independent prosecutor," said one of Moreno-Ocampo's associates at the ICC.

A tall, imposing man with a greying beard and hair, Moreno-Ocampo has helped thrust the world's first permanent war crimes court into the international limelight.   Continued...

<p>The International Criminal Court's (ICC) chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo looks on before addressing the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee in Brussels March 23, 2010. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir</p>