Judges and prosecutor argue over powers

27 March 2005 by HEIKELINA VERRIJN STUART

The International Criminal Court’s (ICC) first status conference was held in camera on 15 March. It was convened to provide an update on the prosecutor’s investigations in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). No information has filtered through on talks between the judges and Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo on this subject. But there have been strong echoes of a legal culture clash and the boundaries of responsibility between the pre-trial chamber and the prosecution.

The chamber, presided over by the French judge, Claude Jorda, had taken the initiative to call the so-called status conference. In June 2004, the ICC prosecutor announced he would be opening investigations in the highly unstable DRC. During its 5-year war, in which various estimates say some 3 million people were directly or indirectly-killed, the peace process in the DRC has been constantly undermined. The prosecutor decided to focus on Ituri, in eastern DRC, and target the highest-ranking suspects of crimes committed in 2002, together with those who supplied them with money and arms. Since then, only low-key investigations have been carried out in the DRC, and no indictments have yet been issued. Security considerations on the ground make investigations more sensitive, as does the political dimension. Although DRC's President Kabila has officially referred the crimes committed in the whole of Congo to the ICC prosecutor, two of the four current vice-presidents could be indicted for crimes committed in Ituri. Given this context, witness protection is one of the difficulties looming over the investigations.

Want to read more?

If you subscribe to a free membership, you can read this article and explore our full archive, dating back to 1997.

Subscribe now

Related articles

article
21 December 2011 by Thijs Bouwknegt

Being the ICC's Chief Prosecutor is a delicate and politically sensitivejob.ForLuisMorenoOcampo it has been "the best job in the world." Fatou Bensouda will be taking over his office in June. She inhe

article
07 December 2011 by Thijs Bouwknegt

December 7, 2011 Ivory Coast is the latest playgroundoftheInternationalCriminal Court. This week the courtroom in The Hague became its theatre of justice. Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo proudly p

article
07 December 2011 by Richard Walker

Four Congolese witnesses testifying at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, find themselves caught in a legal wrangle, which could at once set a legal precedent and make them the last

article
07 December 2011 by Lindy Janssen

Brazil is booming. The economy is expanding and the country is getting ready to host the Football World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016. But the Latin American giant has not even begun dealing wi

article
07 December 2011 by Radosa Milutinovic

The primary purpose of the retrial of Ramush Haradinaj, as proclaimed by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in its appeal judgement in July, should have been to hear testimonies of two "key" witnesses who proved unwilling to testify in the original trial in 2007. Almost four months into the retrial which started in mid-August, its stated aim has not yet been achieved.