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Luis Moreno Ocampo

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Luis Moreno Ocampo

Luis Moreno Ocampo
Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court
In office
16 June 2003 – 15 June 2012
President Philippe Kirsch
Song Sang-Hyun
Deputy Fatou Bensouda
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Fatou Bensouda
Personal details
Born (1952-06-04) 4 June 1952
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Alma mater University of Buenos Aires

Luis Gabriel Moreno Ocampo[nb 1] (born 4 June 1952)[1] is an Argentine lawyer and the first Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC). He previously worked as a prosecutor in Argentina, notably combating corruption and prosecuting human rights abuses by senior military officials in the Trial of the Juntas.

Moreno Ocampo was an Associate Professor of Criminal Law at the University of Buenos Aires and a visiting professor at Stanford University and Harvard Law School.[2] He has acted as a consultant to the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the United Nations.[2] He is a former member of the advisory board of Transparency International and a former president of its Latin America and Caribbean office. As of fall 2013, he was a Senior Fellow at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs at Yale University.[2]

In 2011, The Atlantic included him among its "Brave Thinkers", a guide to the people risking their reputations, fortunes and lives in pursuit of big ideas. In that same year, Foreign Policy magazine designated him one of its "100 Top Global Thinkers", the magazine’s portrait of the world marketplace of ideas.

Career in Argentina

Moreno Ocampo and Julio César Strassera face defendants during the 1985 Trial of the Juntas.

Born in Buenos Aires, Moreno Ocampo graduated from the University of Buenos Aires Law School in 1978, and from 1980 to 1984 worked as a law clerk in the office of the Solicitor General.[3]

From 1984 to 1992, Moreno Ocampo worked as a prosecutor in Argentina.[4] He first came to public attention in 1985, as Assistant Prosecutor in the "Trial of the Juntas" with Chief Prosecutor Julio César Strassera. This trial was the first since the Nuremberg Trials in which senior military commanders were prosecuted for mass killings.[4][5] Nine senior commanders, including three former heads of state, were prosecuted and five were convicted. In 1986-7, he was involved in the cases against the Junta’s subordinate commanders and officers. One of those trials, against two Chiefs of the Buenos Aires Police Force and 4 police officers involved in murders, kidnapping and tortures, ended in 1986. In 1987 he assisted the U.S. Attorney's Office in the extradition process of General Guillermo Suarez Mason from California. From 1988 to 1992 he was the top federal criminal prosecutor of the Buenos Aires Federal Circuit, where he led the prosecution of 2 military rebellion cases, a military malpractice case against the top Army commanders in the Malvinas-Falkland war and dozens of public corruption cases including against Federal Judges, National Ministers and Heads of public companies.

In 1992 he opened law firm Moreno Ocampo & Wortman Jofre, practicing criminal law and international human rights and specialized on corruption control programs for large organizations and in managing and negotiating complex conflicts. The firm worked pro bono on public interest cases such as political bribery; representing the victims in Italyʹs requested extradition of Nazi officer E. Priebke and the daughters of Chilean General Carlos Prats, murdered by the Chilean secret police in 1974 in Buenos Aires.

In the late 1990s, he starred in a reality television programme, Fórum, la corte del pueblo, in which he arbitrated private disputes.[6][7] He appeared in the Kony 2012 campaign video, aimed at making Ugandan cult and militia leader, indicted war criminal and International Criminal Court fugitive Joseph Kony globally known in order to have him arrested.

Moreno Ocampo published several articles and two books (When power lost its judgement. How to explain the ʺdictatorshipʺ to our children and in self-defense and How to avoid corruption?).

The International Criminal Court

The International Criminal Court's headquarters in The Hague

On 21 April 2003, Moreno Ocampo was elected unopposed as the first Prosecutor of the new International Criminal Court.[4][5] He was sworn in for a nine-year term on 16 June 2003. As of April 2011, in his capacity as the Prosecutor of the Court he has opened investigations into [9] The court publicly indicted 36 people. The ICC has issued arrest warrants for 28 individuals and summonses to eight others. Seven persons are in detention. Proceedings against 25 are ongoing: eleven are at large as fugitives, two are under arrest but not in the Court's custody, eight are in the pre-trial phase, another three are at trial, and the prosecution is appealing one individual's acquittal. Proceedings against eleven have been completed: two have been convicted, four have had the charges against them dismissed, two has had the charges against them withdrawn, one has had his case declared inadmissible, and three have died before trial. Moreno Ocampo's term in office ended in June 2012, replaced by Fatou Bensouda of Gambia.

Moreno Ocampo led an investigation against leaders of the Lord's Resistance Army, who in 2005 faced ICC arrest warrants for crimes against humanity. Moreno Ocampo directed an investigation against Germain Katanga and Matthieu Ngudjolo Chui,[10] who received arrest warrants in 2007 and 2008 respectively for crimes against humanity in the Democratic Republic of Congo.[11] In March 2008, according to an Argentine online news report, Moreno Ocampo claimed that the FARC, the largest guerrilla group in Colombia, was appropriate for an investigation by the International Criminal Court.[10] Moreno Ocampo began implementing preliminary tests in Colombia, which involved evaluating prosecutions of paramilitary commanders in Colombia, interviews with victims of the FARC, among others. Moreno-Ocampo claimed that the FARC could be investigated for crimes against humanity.[10] He visited Colombia in August, after which the ICC launched an investigation on the "support network for FARC rebels outside Colombia".[12]

The ICC's first trial, of Congolese militia leader Thomas Lubanga, was suspended on 13 June 2008 when the court ruled that the Prosecutor's refusal to disclose potentially exculpatory material had breached Lubanga's right to a fair trial.[13] The prosecutor had obtained the evidence from the United Nations and other sources on the condition of confidentiality, but the judges ruled that the prosecutor had incorrectly applied the relevant provision of the Rome Statute and, as a consequence, "the trial process has been ruptured to such a degree that it is now impossible to piece together the constituent elements of a fair trial".[13] On 2 July 2008, the court ordered Lubanga's release, on the grounds that "a fair trial of the accused is impossible, and the entire justification for his detention has been removed",[14][15] but an Appeal Chamber agreed to keep him in custody while the prosecutor appealed.[16]

Moreno Ocampo agreed on 18 November 2008 to make all confidential information available to the court and the Trial Chamber reversed its decision and ordered the trial to go ahead.[17][18] He was widely criticised for this action.[18][19][20][21]

On 10 July 2012 Trial Chamber 1 sentenced Lubanga to 14 years in prison, from which the 6 years he had been in remand was deducted.[22] The prosecution had asked for a 30 year prison sentence. In its Decision on Sentence the Trial Chamber was sharply critical of Moreno Ocampo's attempts to introduce evidence of sexual violence, which was not part of the charges against Lubanga. The Trial Chamber wrote: "The Chamber strongly deprecates the attitude of the former Prosecutor in relation to the issue of sexual violence. He advanced extensive submissions as regards sexual violence in his opening and closing submissions at trial, and in his arguments on sentence he contended that sexual violence is an aggravating factor that should be reflected by the Chamber. However, not only did the former Prosecutor fail to apply to include sexual violence or sexual slavery at any stage during these proceedings, including in the original charges, but he actively opposed taking this step during the trial when he submitted that it would cause unfairness to the accused if he was convicted on this basis."[23]

He was also criticised for his decision in July 2008 to publicly charge Omar al-Bashir, the President of Sudan, with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Antonio Cassese,[24] Rony Brauman[25] and Alex de Waal[26] argued that the evidence was insufficient to charge al-Bashir with genocide. Cassese, a former President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, had chaired the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Darfur, which concluded in 2005 that the government of Sudan had not pursued a policy of genocide in Darfur.[27]

De Waal argued that "for nineteen years, President Bashir has sat on top of a government that has been responsible for incalculable crimes [...] Two weeks ago, Moreno Ocampo succeeded in accusing Bashir of the crime for which he is not guilty. That is a remarkable feat."[26] Cassese also argued that if Moreno Ocampo were serious about prosecuting al-Bashir, he should have issued a sealed request and asked the judges to issue a sealed arrest warrant, to be made public only once al-Bashir traveled abroad, instead of publicly requesting the warrant, allowing al-Bashir to avoid arrest simply by remaining in Sudan.[24]

Moreno Ocampo requested arrest warrants in November 2008 for rebels responsible for the murder of members from an international peacekeeping force in Darfur.[28] Leaders from three Darfur tribes, said to be the victims of war crimes, sued him for libel, defamation and igniting hatred and tribalism.[29]

Moreno Ocampo announced the six 'prime suspects' also known as the Ocampo Six in the Kenya post-election violence of 2007 on 15 December 2010. He named suspended Minister of Higher Education William Ruto, Minister for Industrialisation Henry Kosgey, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, former Commissioner of the Kenya Police Major General Mohammed Hussein Ali, Head of Public Services Francis Muthaura, and journalist Joshua Arap Sang as leading perpetrators of the incidents.


On 3 March 2011, Moreno Ocampo declared that "there will be no impunity in Libya" as he announced the beginning of an investigation on crimes against humanity committed by either Libyan security forces loyal to leader Muammar Gaddafi or the opposition to the Gaddafi government during the 2011 Libyan civil war. On 16 May 2011, he filed a request to the ICC to issue an arrest warrant against Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam, and Libyan intelligence chief Abdullah Senussi, for crimes against humanity.[30] The Court issued the warrants on 27 June 2011.


  1. ^ Moreno Ocampo's surnames are often hyphenated in English-language media to distinguish Moreno as a surname, rather than a given name.


  1. ^ (Spanish)Memoria Abierta: Luis Moreno Ocampo
  2. ^ New Jackson Senior Fellows bring global expertise to Yale
  3. ^ Luis Moreno-Ocampo (2003). Curriculum Vitae PDF. Retrieved on 3 February 2009.
  4. ^ a b c International Criminal Court. "The Prosecutor". Retrieved on 3 February 2009.
  5. ^ a b Stephen Cviic (21 April 2003). "Profile: Luis Moreno Ocampo". BBC News. Retrieved on 3 February 2009.
  6. ^ BBC Mundo (14 July 2008). "Perfil de Luis Moreno Ocampo" (Spanish). Retrieved on 12 February 2009.
  7. ^ "La Corte del Pueblo" on YouTube
  8. ^ "Situations and Cases". ICC. Retrieved 2014-09-24. 
  9. ^ "Preliminary Examinations". ICC. Retrieved 2014-11-09. 
  10. ^ a b c "Las FARC pueden ser investigadas por 'crímenes de lesa humanidad'" March 2008 [1]
  11. ^ Coalition for the International Criminal Court
  12. ^ "Swiss FARC network exists, alleges ICC prosecutor" Sep. 2008
  13. ^ a b International Criminal Court (13 June 2008). Decision on the consequences of non-disclosure of exculpatory materials covered by Article 54(3)(e) agreements and the application to stay the prosecution of the accused, together with certain other issues raised at the Status Conference on 10 June 2008 PDF. Retrieved on 3 February 2009.
  14. ^ International Criminal Court (2 July 2008). Decision on the release of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo PDF. Retrieved on 3 February 2009.
  15. ^ International Criminal Court (16 June 2008). "Trial Chamber I ordered the release of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo – Implementation of the decision is pending". Retrieved on 3 February 2009.
  16. ^ International Criminal Court (7 July 2008). "The Appeals Chamber gives suspensive effect to the appeal against the decision on the release of Thomas Lubanga". Retrieved on 3 February 2009.
  17. ^ International Criminal Court (18 November 2008). "Stay of proceedings in the Lubanga case is lifted – trial provisionally scheduled for 26 January 2009". Retrieved on 3 February 2009.
  18. ^ a b Agence France-Presse (18 November 2008). "Road cleared for start of ICC's long-delayed first trial". Retrieved on 3 February 2009.
  19. ^ David Pallister (18 August 2008). "Human rights: Growing clamour to remove the Hague prosecutor who wants Sudanese president arrested". The Guardian. Retrieved on 3 February 2009.
  20. ^ The Economist (11 December 2008). "Sudanese justice begins at home". Retrieved on 3 February 2009.
  21. ^ Joshua Rozenberg (3 July 2008). "Why the world's most powerful prosecutor should resign: Part 1". Retrieved on 3 February 2009.
  22. ^ "Trial Chamber 1: Decision on Sentence pursuant to Article 76 of the Statute (10 July 2012)"
  23. ^ Decision on Sentence, par. 60.
  24. ^ a b Antonio Cassese (July 2008). "Flawed International Justice for Sudan". Retrieved on 3 February 2009.
  25. ^ Rony Brauman (23 July 2008). "The ICC's Bashir Indictment: Law Against Peace". World Politics Review. Retrieved on 3 February 2009.
  26. ^ a b Alex de Waal (29 July 2008). "Moreno Ocampo's Coup de Theatre". Retrieved on 3 February 2009.
  27. ^ International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur (25 January 2005). Report to the Secretary-General PDF, p. 4. Retrieved on 3 February 2009.
  28. ^ "Hague Warrants For Darfur Rebels" Nov. 2008
  29. ^ "Darfurians Sue ICC Prosecutor". Archived from the original on 2009-07-12. 
  30. ^ Libya: ICC prosecutor seeks warrant for Gaddafi, 16 May 2011

External links

  • International Criminal Court: Office of the Prosecutor
  • Case Closed: A Prosecutor Without Borders, "World Affairs", Spring 2009
  • The Controversial Actions of the ICC Prosecutor: a Crisis of Maturity?, "The Hague Justice Portal", 15 September 2008
  • "Farmers and Chickens" An interview with Luis Moreno Ocampo by Guernica Magazine's Joel Whitney
  • Luis Moreno Ocampo at the Internet Movie Database

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