|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference by Outgoing International Criminal Court Prosecutor
It was the Security Council’s responsibility to devise a new strategy to arrest Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir and his aides who had been indicted for serious crimes in Darfur, the International Criminal Court’s top prosecutor said this afternoon at a Headquarters press conference.
“The Court basically fulfilled its mission and defined what happened in Darfur,” said Luis Moreno-Ocampo. “Crimes against humanity and crimes of genocide were committed… Now the matter is to arrest them.” In most cases, the problem was usually the difficulty of locating indictees, but in this case, their whereabouts were known, he said.
The investigation was impartial and 10 judges reviewed the evidence collected, he said. The Sudanese Government initially authorized his office to interview a suspect, one of the generals in charge of Darfur, but stopped cooperating as soon as the Court pressed forward with the case, he added.
Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) was not authorized to arrest them. He advised the Security Council to explore new avenues for arresting them, including authorizing States or regional organizations to execute arrest operations.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Moreno-Ocampo presented a report to the Security Council and briefed the Council on the situation in Darfur. In the Council meeting, he notified Sudanese Ambassador Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman of the Prosecutor Office’s intention to launch an investigation to determine if the delegate, by denying that the crimes had taken place, was in fact involved in the crimes. Later, the delegate criticized Mr. Moreno-Ocampo for threatening and terrorizing him in front of Council members. (See Press Release SC/10663.)
“There is a limit what ambassadors can do and ambassadors cannot follow illegal orders,” he said. His duty was to let the Sudanese ambassador know that denying the crimes could be considered as a contribution to the crimes. “There is a line you cannot cross and should not cross,” he said. For instance, when crimes were committed in Libya, the Libyan ambassador to the United Nations declined to represent the Gadhafi regime and left, he said.
Responding to a journalist, who asked what the language he had used that was deemed “terrorizing” the Sudanese ambassador was, he repeated what he said in the Council meeting. “I said: ‘with due respect to the Council and the Government of Sudan, it is my duty as a prosecutor to inform the Council and to put on notice the ambassador of Sudan, Mr. Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali, that, in accordance with Article 25 3(d), his activities denying crimes in Darfur could be considered part of the crimes. The Office has an obligation to investigate anyone responsible for the commission of crimes. So, the Office will investigate Mr. Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali. Denial of the crimes committed could be considered a contribution to a group of perpetrators acting with a common purpose’”.
Since Nuremberg, it had been clear that due obedience was not an excuse, he said. Therefore, the Office would respect Mr. Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali’s rights and invited him to present information. If he was found as having contributed to the crimes, the Office would not hesitate to take appropriate measures, Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said.
Asked about the Sudanese ambassador’s accusation of Mr. Moreno-Ocampo being politically motivated, Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said his job was solely to investigate crimes.
On human rights violations in Syria, he declined to comment, saying that his mandate did not entail investigating crimes in Syria and the Security Council had not referred the case to his Court. But in his observation, what’s happening in the Arab world was a revolution based on people’s demand for justice.
To comments that his cases were unfairly focused on Africa, he said he could not intervene outside of his jurisdiction. Victims in his cases were not white people, but black people, he said, denying any suggestion of prejudice.
After retiring from his current post in mid-June, he said he would like to enjoy holidays, but keep his active role in operations, including helping address problems, such as the drug dealer problem in Mexico and Columbia. He also would like to share “lessons learned” during his nine-year tenure at the Court, and educate children.
* *** *