The other side of Mr Ocampo

May 13, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 13 – The only time this busy man has to rest is when he is on a plane headed for duty to one of the many countries he is conducting investigations.
Luis Moreno Ocampo is a man who works round the clock and sees his family once a month!

My appointment with him is for 8.45 am at the Serena Hotel in Nairobi.

He arrives for our meeting at exactly that time in the breakfast area as I waited with the International Criminal Court Public Information Unit Media Liaison Officer Nicola Fletcher.

Fletcher was in the process of asking a waiter to prepare a table when Ocampo walks in.

She quickly rushes to him and engages in a conversation as they head to the table where I join them.

He picks a plate, places two croissants on it and some strawberry jam before heading to a table on the patio but amid all this rush, he barely notices that the table has not even been set.

Waiters rush to his service and he immediately picks a croissant, dips it in the jam on the side of the plate and takes a bite.

A waiter tries to tie a napkin around his neck, but he seems unperturbed as he is in hurry to finish his breakfast.

All this time, he has not spoken to me and seems not to notice my presence.  I get uneasy but Fletcher steps in and introduces me to Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the Prosecutor of the ICC.

I am now seated directly opposite him and he gives me a warm smile making me more at ease to begin my interview.

At this point, I am told that I have eight (yes, eight!) minutes to conduct my interview.

He turns the tables on me and starts interrogating me.  “Where is Capital FM and what’s its coverage? Do you reach out to victims and witnesses of the post-election violence?”

This sets the mood for our interview but I ask whether I should shoot my questions or wait for him to finish his breakfast.

He is quick to tell me that we should proceed as he has a beehive of activities lined up in the final 12 hours of his five-day visit in Kenya.

Before my interview, Mr Ocampo has spoken a lot about the International Criminal Court (ICC) and extensively illustrated his role in the Kenyan process, and so that is not in my interest today.

“As you can see now, I am eating a croissant,” is his answer when I ask what his favourite meal is.

Do you have a family? I continue… “Yes I have a family.  My wife and kids live in Buenos Aires. I am working for the world doing justice and I go to see my family once a month for a few days.”

What do you do in your free time? I ask.  “I have no free time. My only free time is only when I am flying. But it is great. I feel honoured to be the prosecutor of the ICC.”

He is passionate with matters of justice especially for the poor and weak in all societies.

He never forgets to mention his concern for victims of violence and even uses the opportunity to send me to a victim in Kibera Jane Wairimu who had been interviewed on Monday by Radio Netherlands Worldwide.

“I want to use the opportunity to talk to people like Jane, she lost everything, but now she has hope in the ICC. I’d like to work for her but I know I can prosecute some leaders but Jane needs more.  She needs to recover her house; she needs assistance, that is why I will do my job for Jane. It will not be enough but I need other Kenyans to work for Jane,” this is Mr Ocampo’s special message not only to Jane, but the thousands of victims of the 2008 post-election violence.

It is interesting to know that Mr Ocampo has rich experience and is compassionate in matters of law, human rights and justice for victims.

Before he became the ICC Prosecutor, he served as a deputy prosecutor during the junta trials in his native Argentina.

He has also served as a District Attorney.

In 1992 he started his own law firm where his clients included renowned football legend Diego Maradona.

He also represented victims of the Nazi war.

An Associate Professor of criminal law, Mr Ocampo lectured at Stanford University, University of Buenos Aires and Harvard Law School.

The veteran prosecutor also draws a lot of experience in law after having worked as a consultant for World Bank and sat in the advisory board of Transparency International.

 So how did he become the ICC Prosecutor?

“I was in Buenos Aires parking my car and then I received a phone call telling me, ‘Luis Moreno Ocampo, we are calling you because we put your name in a list of candidates to be the Prosecutor of the ICC and now you have made it to the top of the list. We have never talked to you, so we don’t know whether you’d like the job,’ he recalls.

He continued, “I told my wife I have received this funny call today.  Nothing will happen don’t worry. I went to New York for an interview and a few months later they appointed me unanimously.”

The 58-year-old prosecutor was elected unopposed as the first ICC Prosecutor in April 2003.

My eight minutes are up before I probe the private life of Mr Ocampo further.

Immediately after finishing his breakfast he rushes to another interview marking the beginning of a series of meetings he has to attend before leaving the country.

But even as he hurriedly leaves his table, he warmly gives me a handshake and tells me to collect questions from Kenyans on his behalf and email them to his office.


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