Luis Moreno Ocampo: "Democracies commit crimes too" - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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I used auto Google translate to render this article so excuse any funny phraseology.

Luis Moreno Ocampo is a former ICC Judge & Prosecutor and is being interviewed by Kathimerini newspaper to comment on the recent ICC and ICJ rulings regarding Israel-Palestine.

kathimerini wrote:
Luis Moreno Ocampo in "K": Democracies also commit crimes

It is crazy that Hamas claims to be fighting for freedom and then kills civilians. It is crazy that Israel is putting more than two million people under siege

Requests for arrest warrants by International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan against the organization's leadership are a "huge opportunity" to investigate Hamas' funding sources and support networks, according to Luis Moreno Ocampo . The Argentine jurist was the first prosecutor of the Court, from 2003 to 2012. In his country he had already become known in the 1980s as the persecutor of the leaders of the military junta of 1976-83. In the exclusive interview he gave to "K", he embellishes the attacks against his successor by supporters of Israel, emphasizes that if there is a thorough investigation into the conduct of the war in Gaza by Israel, the ICC proceedings will be suspended and insists that Benjamin Netanyahu must respond to the accusations "with legal arguments, not political statements".

– How do you comment on the criticism that the request for arrest warrants for both the leadership of Hamas and the Prime Minister and Minister of Defense of Israel morally equates the perpetrators of a heinous terrorist attack with a democratic state that was the victim of that attack?

– It's a distraction! So democratic governments can't commit war crimes? We should focus on ending the hostage situation, ending the crimes. Blaming the prosecutor is ridiculous. We must not fall into this trap.

Benjamin Netanyahu is the first leader of a Western ally to be threatened with an arrest warrant. "He has to answer the charges with legal arguments, not political statements," points out Luis Moreno Ocampos, prosecutor of the International Criminal Court from 2003 to 2012.

The famine conditions (in Gaza) are so brutal, so obvious, that even President Biden built an entire port (on the Gaza coast) to deal with the problem. He cannot fail to understand that what he characterizes as a humanitarian problem, for the prosecutor – and for any international criminologist – is a war crime, with more than 2 million victims. It is so simple!

Political leaders who invoke this argument (of moral equivalency) show that they do not care about the bad behavior of their friends. This is incorrect.

– You mean they only demand accountability for their enemies, not allies.

- Exactly. They like the Law when it is imposed on their enemies. They don't like it when it's applied indiscriminately. Under Obama, the United States had openly announced that it would support ICC prosecutions, but only in cases consistent with American interests. It is of course expected. We should not expect the powerful to uphold International Law; International Law protects the weak.

– What do you think of the argument that under the Rome Statute (its founding treaty) the ICC should not have jurisdiction over citizens of a country that has adequate judicial mechanisms to investigate war crimes?

– Look, the moment a prosecutor in Israel starts an investigation against the same people for the same incidents, the ICC will suspend its own investigation – even if international arrest warrants have been issued. It would be in Netanyahu's best interest to go to the prosecutors in Israel and ask to be investigated himself. The judges (of the ICC) of course have to make sure that the national investigation is on substance, not just a smokescreen to protect the prime minister. But if a real investigation is conducted in Israel, the ICC will step aside.

As things stand now, there are some clear facts, there is no national prosecutorial investigation, whenever (the ICC prosecutor) had to act. And he did.

If there is a real investigation in Israel, the International Criminal Court will step aside.

Now the judges will consider the evidence. If Netanyahu wants to stop the case, he must use legal arguments, not political statements.

​​​​​​​​​– If I understand you correctly, however, you are saying that, based on the law and the facts, Khan had more than sufficient justification to seek arrest warrants for Israel's leaders...

​​​​​​​– Khan did something very interesting. He convened a six-person advisory committee to advise on the case. These individuals include Theodore Meron, of Jewish descent, who as a child was an inmate of a Nazi labor camp and who has worked as a legal adviser to the United States and Israel. Even he, who is perfectly friendly with Israel, says the accusations are well founded. The six also include Lord Fulford, a former judge at the UK Court of Appeal (now a former judge at the International Criminal Court), and Elizabeth Wilmshurst, a former deputy legal adviser to the British Foreign Office on the Iraq war, who disagreed with the invasion for legal reasons and resigned. Well, we are talking about people of a very high level. When I was in this position, I too sought advice – but secretly. Kahn did it in public, and if he was told "no" he would stop. But they said yes.

Yahya Sinwar is being treated by the International Criminal Court as one of the "masterminds" of the attack launched by Hamas on October 7. According to the former prosecutor of the ICC, Luis Moreno Ocampo, in order to eradicate terrorism, the authorities must apply the methods they use against organized crime. "To find the sources of funding and to hunt down the leadership and its supporters," says the Argentinian jurist.

It is now in the hands of three judges, two women and one man. If they deny the request, the prosecutor can appeal. How long the process will take is unclear. In the case of Putin it was only one month; in the case of Bashir (aka the Sudanese dictator prosecuted by Moreno Ocampo in 2009) it was eight.

​​​​​​​– Speaking to Christiane Amanpour, Khan revealed something particularly interesting that a political leader – we’re guessing a Western leader – told him: that the ICC is “for Africa and some thugs like Putin”. Netanyahu and Gallad are the first Western allies to be threatened with an arrest warrant. Is this to you a sign that the Court is maturing and is now willing to go after anyone suspected of crimes against humanity – wherever they come from?

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​- We did not avoid cases in my time either. But now the Court has a history of 20 years, it is a solid institution. And it is an institution that brings us back, legally and morally, to reason. Because it's crazy that Hamas claims to be fighting for freedom and then kills civilians; and it's crazy that Israel puts over 2 million people under siege. It's a war crime.

​​​​​​​​​– In your own terms, did you feel pressure not to investigate the deeds of Western officials? Did you feel like the bar was higher to do something like that? How did you remember it?

​​​​​​​​​– I remember that for three years I was considering whether I could open an inquiry about Palestine. The American ambassador (in Israel) had come then and asked me not to do it. I just ignored him, because I had to do my job. But I ultimately decided that I had no jurisdiction to make this inquiry, because Palestine had not yet been recognized as a state by the Court (p.s. for the Court to have jurisdiction over a territory the state to which the territory belongs must accede to its founding treaty).

Then, in October 2012, the UN General Assembly changed the status of Palestine, turning it into a non-member observer state. That changed things. In 2015, Palestine acceded to the Rome Statute, and in 2021, the ICC judges issued a ruling placing Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem within the Court's jurisdiction. Thus a 12-year process was completed and Karim Khan, when he assumed his role, was able to conduct investigations into war crimes in these areas.

To be precise: he can seek warrants against Hamas because they planned the attack on Israel from Gaza – and brought the hostages to Gaza. And he can seek a warrant against Netanyahu for what Israel is doing in Gaza. Israel is not a member of the ICC, so the Court has no jurisdiction over crimes committed within its territory.

​​​​​​​– Speaking to CNN you said that the warrant requests are an opportunity to investigate how Hamas is financed.

- Yes! We should seize this tremendous opportunity, instead of criticizing the prosecutor's choices. War has never succeeded in eradicating terrorism. We must replace war with Justice, apply the methods we use against organized crime – find the sources of funding and hunt down its leadership and supporters.

There is evidence, published in a New York Times report, of a Turkish company, Trend, that was at the center of the Hamas funding network. The United States sanctioned this company, but Turkey did not – and today it is worth twice what it was before the sanctions!

​​​​​​​​​– The six lawyers consulted by Khan wrote an op-ed in the Financial Times in support of the warrant requests, which they close by expressing the hope that “this process will contribute to increased protection of civilians and to a sustainable peace in a region that has already endured too much." Do you also have this hope?

​​​​​​​– 80%-90% of countries respect International Law. These countries must also impose their respect on the powerful: stop the war in Ukraine and Gaza, stop the killing. We are talking about the future of humanity. These conflicts are not just about Europe or the Middle East; they are about us all.
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noemon wrote:I used auto Google translate to render this article so excuse any funny phraseology.

Luis Moreno Ocampo is a former ICC Judge & Prosecutor and is being interviewed by Kathimerini newspaper to comment on the recent ICC and ICJ rulings regarding Israel-Palestine.


This is incoherent because he isn't (cant) say what he really means.

What he really means is that jews can commit war crimes. Usually when jews do commit war crimes, they just mumble something about the holocaust and that combined with obsessive support from the usa makes them immune to any consequences for their crimes.

This is not a Netanyahu thing. This has been standard Israeli practice since its founding. And even the founding of Israel was linked fundamentally to terrorism and political corruption and conspiracy.

What he ought to be saying is that the history of the holocaust should not give jews free reign to genocide whoever they want. This ought to be rather common sense and easy to say..and most of the regular people in the world would agree with that sentiment.

But he cannot say that. He has to deflect to nonsense like 'democracies' or 'netanhayu' because the holocaust narrative does still have power over him...which is sufficient proof to me that he will never back up his rhetoric with any action.

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