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Prominent Argentinean lawyer to be elected ICC prosecutor

Prominent Argentinean lawyer to be elected ICC prosecutor

Fulfilling a responsibility United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has described as "crucially important," the countries charged with shaping the newly-inaugurated International Criminal Court (ICC) have selected a prominent Argentinean litigator as the tribunal's chief prosecutor.

The formal election of Luis Moreno Ocampo as Prosecutor for the world's only permanent war crimes tribunal is expected to take place when the resumed session of the Assembly of States Parties to the ICC convenes from 21 to 24 April at UN Headquarters in New York. The countries had agreed informally on Mr. Moreno Ocampo as their choice last Friday.

In a statement released yesterday, Prince Raad Al Hussein of Jordan, President of the Assembly, praised Mr. Moreno Ocampo’s “recognized integrity,” saying the Argentinean prosecutor had been chosen by consensus from a list of strong contenders. “In agreeing to Mr. Moreno Ocampo, the States Parties are confident the newly-established Court will benefit in the coming years from a gifted prosecutor with proven abilities,” he said

The ICC was inaugurated in The Hague on 11 March, with the swearing-in of its judges in a solemn ceremony hailed by top UN officials as an historic day for international justice. Outlining the importance of their task, the Secretary-General called on the judges to show great patience, compassion and an unfailing resolve to arrive at the truth, adding "in all your functions - judicial administrative and representational - you must act without fear of favour, guided and inspired by the provisions of the Rome Statute."

The 18-judge tribunal will have jurisdiction over the most serious crimes, including war crimes, genocide, mass murder, enslavement, rape, torture, and, once defined, the crime of aggression. The Rome Statute - the treaty establishing the ICC - entered into force 1 July 2002, and the Court's jurisdiction will cover only crimes committed after that date. The Statute allows States Parties as well as the UN Security Council to refer situations to the Court for investigation.