US slaps sanctions on war crimes court prosecutor

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Representational Photo: AFP/File

WASHINGTON  —  US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday slapped sanctions on the top prosecutor of the International Criminal Court — a move that The Hague-based tribunal called a “serious” attack against the rule of law.

The economic sanctions against Fatou Bensouda and another senior ICC official, Phakiso Mochochoko, after earlier visa bans on Bensouda and others failed to head off the court’s war crimes probe into US military personnel in Afghanistan.

“Today we take the next step, because the ICC continues to target Americans, sadly,” Pompeo said.

The ICC quickly fired back.

“These coercive acts, directed at an international judicial institution and its civil servants, are unprecedented and constitute serious attacks against the court, the Rome Statute system of international criminal justice, and the rule of law more generally,” it said in a statement.

The sanctions freeze the US assets of the two officials, and bar any US individuals from doing business with them.

– ‘Kangaroo court’ –

President Donald Trump had authorized sanctions on the ICC on June 11 over its investigation of US troops.

Pompeo at the time referred to the ICC as a “kangaroo court” and warned that if US soldiers were targeted, those of US allies in Afghanistan risked the same treatment.

Despite the new sanctions, the ICC appeared to give no ground on the issue, saying it “continues to stand firmly by its personnel and its mission of fighting impunity for the world’s most serious crimes.”–AFP

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