The Hague, January 11, 2012 (FH) - For the International Criminal Court, 2012 will be marked by the arrival of a new Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda of Gambia, who takes up her post on June 16.  Important decisions due in the first half of the year will be key to how the legacy of the current prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo is seen, in terms of his prosecutorial strategy.

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Ten years after it was set up, the Court is expected to hand down this month its first judgment, concerning former Congolese militiaman Thomas Lubanga. Lubanga is accused of war crimes for enlisting child soldiers in his troops during the conflict in Ituri, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, in 2002-2003.

Another much awaited decision concerns six prominent Kenyans accused of crimes against humanity for their alleged role in post-electoral violence in 2007-2008. ICC judges are expected to announce before January 21 whether the charges are confirmed.

In the trial of former Congolese vice-president Jean-Pierre Bemba, the prosecution should finish presenting its evidence by the beginning of February. Bemba will then start bringing his defence witnesses. The Congolese Senator is accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in the Central African Republic in 2002 and 2003.

Parties in the trial of Congolese militiamen Mathieu Ngudjolo and Germain Katanga are due to present their closing arguments from May 15 to 25. The two are being jointly tried for crimes against humanity committed in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.  

June 18 should see the start of confirmation of charges hearings in the case of former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo. The former head of state is accused of crimes against humanity committed in 2010 and 2011. The Prosecutor has said he plans more arrest warrants in connection with Côte d'Ivoire's post-election violence, and has promised to pursue leaders of both sides in the conflict.

With regard to ICC arrest warrants for Libyans Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi, judges are expected to decide in the coming months whether Tripoli has the means and the will to give them a fair trial in Libya.

In May, the Prosecutor is expected to reveal the outcome of his investigations into the crimes committed in Libya, when he presents a new report to the UN Security Council. He will have to decide, for example, how to deal with allegations of war crimes by NATO and by the Libyan rebels who are now in power in Tripoli.

In March, the six new judges elected by the Assembly of States Parties will take office. The 18 ICC judges will then elect a new President of the Court and two Vice-Presidents. ICC member states are expected to elect a new Deputy Prosecutor (or Deputy Prosecutors) at the eleventh Assembly of States Parties, which is due to take place in The Hague from November 14 to 22.

On July 2, 2012, the ICC will celebrate its ten years of existence in The Hague.


© Hirondelle News Agency