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US sanctions ICC prosecutors Bensouda, Mochochoko



Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands

The United States on Wednesday announced sanctions against the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda and her counterpart Phakiso Mochochoko, the ICC’s director of jurisdiction, complementary and cooperation division.

The 59-year-old Bensouda, a Gambian national, had angered the Trump administration by opening an investigation into crimes allegedly committed by American soldiers in Afghanistan.  Mochochoko is a from Lesotho.

During a briefing Wednesday at the State Department, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced sanctions against Bensouda, adding that any individual or entity who materially assisted her also would be subject to sanctions. 

Pompeo did not give specific reasons for the sanctions but accused the ICC of targeting Americans,  a similar accusation made by African leaders against the global body. The sanctions means Bensouda and Mochochoko have been grouped together with other convicted criminals such as terrorists, drug traffickers among others.

In June, U.S. President Donald Trump issued an executive order authorizing sanctions against “officials, employees and agents, as well as members of their immediate families” working at the ICC.    

“These attacks constitute an escalation and an unacceptable attempt to interfere with the rule of law and the court’s judicial proceedings,” Bensouda told VOA in an interview later in June.

“An attack on the ICC also represents an attack against the interests of victims of atrocity crimes, for many of whom the ICC represents the last hope for justice,”   she said.

Bensouda’s name has been added to the list of sanctioned individuals, the U.S. Treasury Department noted in a Wednesday release. US is not a member of the ICC.

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