Who is Luis Moreno Ocampo?

Luis Moreno Ocampo is a former International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor.  Editorial credit: STRINGER Image / Shutterstock.com
Luis Moreno Ocampo is a former International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor. Editorial credit: STRINGER Image / Shutterstock.com

Luis Gabriel Moreno Ocampo is an Argentine lawyer, former International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor, and a visiting law professor at Stanford University and Harvard Laws School. Ocampo was born on June 4, 1952 in Buenos Aires, Argentina where he also grew up, studied, and spent the first few years of his career. In Argentina, Ocampo successfully prosecuted some of the most feared men in the country. Such acts propelled Ocampo into the global justice system where he was in charge of investigations and prosecution of people charged with crimes against humanity. Although retired, Ocampo runs a successful consultancy firm and travels the globe giving lectures.

Legal Career in Argentina

After graduating from the University of Buenos Aires, Ocampo began his career in 1980 as a legal clerk under the office of the Solicitor General. He steadily rose to the position of prosecutor and he became a public figure during the prosecution of military personnel in the the Trial of the Juntas for mass killings. The trial was a success as of the nine whom he was prosecuting, including three former heads of state, the court convicted five of them. During his five-year stint as a District Attorney, he prosecuted more military commanders for war crimes. In total, he handled 700 cases of alleged kidnapping, torture, extrajudicial killings, and rape. In 1992, Ocampo formed his private law firm that defended Argentinian priest Julio Grassi who, at the time, faced charges of sexually abusing seventeen young boys. Among Ocampo’s clients then included Diego Maradona. The World Bank and UN also gave him several consultancy opportunities. Ocampo taught Criminal Law at the University of Buenos Aires and was also a regular figure in a reality TV show that arbitrated private disputes. He was also a visiting professor at several US universities including Harvard. The experience Ocampo got in Argentina prosecuting military leaders and the fact that he taught law at Harvard made him a choice of the majority who were selecting the first ICC Chief Prosecutor.

Career at the International Criminal Court

After the formation of the ICC, Ocampo became the court’s first Chief Prosecutor elected on a non-renewable nine-year term beginning June 16, 2003. During his tenure, he opened different cases including in the Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Sudan (Darfur), Georgia, Kenya, Libya, Mali, and Uganda. In other countries like Afghanistan, Gabon, Colombia, Burundi, Guinea, and Nigeria, investigations were at different levels by the time Ocampo left the ICC. At the ICC, he indicted 41 people, issued arrest warrants for 33, summoned eight, and detained seven. Ocampo completed trials for seventeen people out of which four died before trial, the ICC convicted three and acquitted one, six had charges dismissed, two had charges withdrawn, and one had charges declared inadmissible. Individuals who Ocampo investigated and charged include Joseph Kony, Germain Katanga, Matthieu Ngudjolo Chui, Thomas Lubanga, Omar Al-Bashir, William Ruto (currently Kenya’s Deputy President), and Uhuru Kenyatta (currently Kenya’s President). Ocampo’s investigations into crimes in Africa led several African leaders and institutions into perceiving a bias towards the continent. Ocampo retired in June 2012.

Life After the International Criminal Court

Ocampo took up several assignments after he left the ICC. Currently, he is a global counsel at Getnick and Getnick as well as an associate at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University. Ocampo also runs the Moreno Ocampo Consulting, a firm that deals with global conflict management strategies. Together with the likes of John Kerry, Ocampo supports Yazda to institute genocide proceedings against ISIL at the ICC. There are many projects under the 65-year-old lawyer including his upcoming book that will cover his nine years at the ICC.


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