- Cornered over comments on Uhuru and Ruto’s bid for office, Ocampo found a good friend in Bensouda, who instructed her staff to pen an op-ed for him
- Emails show a man still holding sway long after his departure, and a successor willing to get her hands dirty for him
The International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda wrote a media article for her predecessor Louis Moreno Ocampo, who in turn passed it off as his.
The revelations attesting to Ocampo’s long shadow looming on the court long after his departure, are contained in a cache of emails obtained by French media agency Mediapart and analysed by the European Investigative Collaborations (EIC).
Cornered over his comments on the Kenyan cases, Ocampo found a succor in Bensouda who wrote for him a defence using her court staff and facilities.
It is March 2014 and Ocampo is braving heavy political pressure over his conduct in the Kenyan cases. To vent the pressure, he grants an interview to a Dutch radio station and what he says brews a fresh storm in Kenya.
In the interview published by Kenyan newspapers and media outlets, Ocampo is construed as admitting that “some diplomats” pressured him into stopping President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto from running for office in 2013 general election.
Picking on the alleged admission, Kenyan politicians called on the ICC to drop the cases, once and for all.
“I attach a draft op-ed prepared by the office for your consideration,” Bensouda writes to Ocampo on March 10, 2014 in an email obtained by Saturday Standard through the Africa Network for Centres of Investigative Reporting.
“Let’s settle on the text. It goes without saying that the more important news outlet that publishes this, the more reach it will have in countering the fallacy that has been propagated,” she adds.
Attached to the email is the response, known in newsroom parlance as, “op-ed” headlined “Setting the record straight regarding my January 22, 2014 interview with Radio Netherlands Worldwide”
To further give leeway to the pompous Argentinian, the prosecutor signed off: “Let me know if the text works for you and how you want to proceed.”
In the text, “Ocampo” claims Kenyan media “misused” his words, complains of a “steady stream of inaccurate and inflammatory media reports”, restates his innocence and admits that “evidence can change” if key witnesses are threatened into withdrawing.
“Several other factors may also erode the evidence that a Prosecutor collects during their investigation.
These are complex issues that the current Prosecutor must grapple with,” the fake Ocampo writes.
It seems Ocampo did not change a word in the final piece supplied by The Hague-Trials Kenya at his behest. It was a perfect piece of deception weaved in The Hague on behalf of a man who was globe-trotting tending to his post-ICC consultancies.
The piece published in various Kenyan media on April 5, 2015 was word for word what Bensouda had send. In her March 10 email, which was responding to another one from Ocampo, the chief prosecutor appeared to suggest that her predecessor’s comments had lingered on to the detriment of the court.
“Just the other day in the context of a seminar in DC on the ICC and Kenyan cases, reference was again made to the interview by one of the panelists,” she said.
In a separate occasion on July 30, 2013 at the heat of the Kenyan cases, Ocampo writes to Bensouda informing her of his international justice travails in a historic Germany city.
“I spent my weekend at Nuremberg with a group of experts. Can we talk by phone today? I think I should update you,” he wrote.
Nuremberg was the seat of the international military tribunal which tried Nazi leadership over the Second World War atrocities. The city hosts important debates, symposiums and meetings on international justice mechanisms.
The revelations notwithstanding, Bensouda has insisted that she neither initiated contact nor sought advice or collaborated with Ocampo in relation to any of the situations under active consideration of the court.
Instead, she has thrown two of her staff members under the bus by inviting the court’s Independent Oversight Mechanism (IOM) to probe her.
“As this matter unfolds and the allegations are fairly and properly scrutinised, speculation should not be entertained,” she said in a statement published in the court’s official website. Ocampo in turn has welcomed investigations on the matter and equally denied wrong-doing. Bensouda’s office did not respond to our inquiries on the op-ed.