News from Maanweg in The Hague and the headquarters of the
International Criminal Court talk of desperation and anguish. On the
12th floor the besieged prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo remains huddled
in his corner room with the view over the dull suburb of Voorburg.
The fuehrer’s last days in the bunker seems like a fitting metaphor.
For how long will this tragedy be allowed to continue?
News from
the inside talk of a score of new defections among senior managers in
the OTP (office of the prosecutor). Defections of course started early
and some dropped out even while negotiating a contract, realizing that something was not quite sound in the office. In less than
five years more than a dozen managers and high-level staff in the OTP
have run screaming away, rather than continue working in the anarchic
climate of the Moreno-Ocampo OTP.
Since Moreno-Ocampo arrived in
The Hague in the spring of 2003 he has lost his legal advisers Morten
Bergsmo and Gilbert Bitti, both veterans of the process to create the
court. His chief administrative officer Paulo Rajao also left early and
was one of the first defectors, before the scramble to get out gained
real speed. Others who left were the OTP external relations adviser
Darryl Robinson and the chef de cabinet Silvia Fernandez, also both
veterans of the process to set up the court.
Among the trial
lawyers on the 10th floor there has also been a series of defections,
like the extremely qualified Andrew Cayley, the less so (and internally
highly controversial) Christine Chung, and most recently the head of
the appeals section Fabricio Guariglia (who is initally on extended leave). Moreno-Ocampo’s spokesperson
Yves Sorokobi didn’t last more than 16 months in the office and his
position has never been filled after he left in 2005. Instead
Moreno-Ocampo has elevated a general service employee, a translator
from the Acholi language in Uganda, to a position as “public
information coordinator”. Journalists in The Hague report that she
doesn’t even know the meaning of the term “off record”, but on the
other hand she apparently has other “qualities” that are satisfying to
the boss in the corner room.
Among investigators there are many
who returned to work in national jurisdictions, rather than work with
the ICC, like Dutchman Martin Witteveen and Frenchman Bernard Lavigne.
Some investigators have even returned to the Yugoslavia tribunal, which
is soon to close, rather than continue working with the prosecutor of
the permanent war crimes court. The most recent defection from the OTP
is Scotsman Paul Seils, who headed the preliminary analysis section.
The most prominent defector is of course deputy prosecutor Serge
Brammertz who departed already at the end of 2005, after only just over
two years in the service of the ICC. Serge Brammerts has all the
qualities that Moreno-Ocampo lack, high academic and professional
competence, a brilliant career and wide support among the member states
(known as “states parties” in the jargon of the court). When
Moreno-Ocampo was just a celebrity lawyer in distant Argentina
Brammertz, then only in his early forties, was federal prosecutor in
his homeland Belgium. And while Brammertz speaks four languages (Flemish, French, German and English) fluently, Moreno-Ocampo struggles even with simple phrases in English.
It’s not a secret that Brammertz left the OTP
in desperation over Moreno-Ocampo. At lunchtime in the ICC canteen he
used to entertain colleagues with long litanys of the erratic behaviour
of his boss. Moreno-Ocampo on one occasion almost literally “kidnapped”
Brammertz on his boat, taking him for a five hour long trip around the
canals of The Hague and refusing to let him step ashore, while mounting
a rambling and incomprehensible defence of his “strategy”.
latest twist in the tragedy of the ICC is also quite remarkable.
Moreno-Ocampo now apparently is resorting to brute force to silence his
critics (not surprising for a person who on occasion has expressed admiration
for Josef Stalin). In the past weeks Moreno-Ocampo’s new legal adviser
Hans Bevers (one of the few remaining lapdogs in the office) has begun
sending letters to former staff members who have been quoted in the
media with critical comments about the ICC and threatening them with
legal action if they don’t shut up.
No arguments left, time to bring in the Yezhovs and the Yagodas.
Continue to watch this place. For documents and media reports about Morenogate go to