ICC's Fatou Bensouda


Fatou Bensouda, a Gambian lawyer aged 50, is to take over from Luis Moreno-Ocampo, as the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor from April 2012. The new prosecutor is not a new face at the ICC and has more than 20 years of experience in prosecution. She is to serve a one nine-year term handling cases touching on crimes against humanity committed in various countries in Africa. In addition, she heads the Prosecution Division of the Office of the Prosecutor at The Hague. She currently reigns as the International Criminal Court's deputy prosecutor, a position which she has served since her appointment in 2004. Being African, she hails from Gambia where she served as the country's Attorney General, which is the country's highest legal office. Bensouda will set a record as the first African and woman to hold the post.

She firmly dismissed as "unjustified" the notion –supported by leaders like Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe – that the ICC is anti-Africa. This, ICC critics believe, is an extension of the bias against Africa and the face of Neo-Colonialism. Bensouda disagrees. She has been unyielding in seeking justice for victims of crimes against humanity. She is familiar with the two cases against six Kenyans accused of crimes against humanity, following post-election violence of 2007-2008. The six are awaiting a ruling by the ICC Pre-trial Chamber II on whether the charges against them are strong enough to be tried at The Hague. That ruling is expected in the first quarter of next year. If charges against Eldoret North MP William Ruto, Tinderet MP Henry Kosgey, radio presenter Joshua arap Sang, Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura and Postmaster General and former Police Commissioner Hussein Ali are confirmed, it is the new prosecutor who will continue with the cases from June 2012, when Ocampo leaves office.

Bensouda also handled the case on Kabuga's indictment. He was charged in absentia with conspiracy to commit genocide, alongside former Defence Minister Augustine Bizimana and Major Protais Mpiranya, former commandant of late President JuvÈnal Habyarimana's Guard. Other cases she is to continue with at the Office of The Prosecutor touch on atrocities committed in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Uganda, Ivory Coast, and the Central African Republic.

Lawyers handling the Kenya cases at The Hague state that Bensouda deserves the post due to her experience in prosecuting international cases.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo will not see any Kenyan case to its conclusion should any of the Kenyan cases before the ICC go to trial. This change of prosecutors has evoked anxiety from Kenyans and curiosity as to what will be the fate of the six Kenyans.

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