UNITED NATIONS — Allegations of sexual misconduct against the prosecutor who charged President Bashir of Sudan with genocide and other crimes, including overseeing systematic rapes, could further complicate the process of bringing justice to those who committed atrocities in Darfur.
Visiting the United Nations yesterday, the International Criminal Court's top prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, noted that he had been cleared by his colleagues, and he dismissed the latest twist in a case involving allegations that he made improper advances toward a female journalist as "a human resource issue."
A former aide, Christian Palme of Sweden, who accused Mr. Ocampo of sexual misconduct against a female South African journalist, says a tape-recording that was presented to the court bolsters his claims. Mr. Ocampo, according to Mr. Palme, confiscated the car keys of the journalist and refused to return them to her unless she had sexual relations with him.
"I fully stand by my initial allegation," Mr. Palme told The New York Sun in an e-mail message yesterday. He wrote that he first heard of the case from a colleague with whom the journalist had confided, and that there was additional evidence, including "a fragmented tape recording" that the friend made days after the March 2005 incident.
"In this recording, where it can be clearly heard that the reporter is crying desperately, she confirms that she had sexual intercourse with Moreno-Ocampo, that Moreno-Ocampo took her keys and that she had to consent to sexual intercourse to be able to leave his hotel suite," Mr. Palme wrote in his e-mail message, adding that Mr. Ocampo "has never denied the veracity of this recording."
When three ICC judges investigated the case, the unidentified female journalist denied the story, as did Mr. Ocampo, according to the London Telegraph. The case was dismissed for lack of evidence, according to the newspaper, which first reported on the affair Wednesday. Based on the ruling, Mr. Ocampo fired Mr. Palme last year.
"There can be many reasons for a crime victim to say different things to a friend and to a court, in particular if you have any knowledge of how rape victims are treated by the defective legal system of South Africa," Mr. Palme wrote in his e-mail message.
In the latest twist, a Geneva-based administrative tribunal of the International Labor Organization awarded Mr. Palme $40,000 in "moral damages" and $200,000 in compensation, saying he had no reason to suspect that the colleague who had brought the case to his attention was not telling the truth.
According to established whistleblower protection principles, "if you believe the case is true when you disclose it, you should not be fired," Beatrice Edwards of the Washington-based Government Accountability Project said. Cases involving whistleblowers are very hard to prove, she added, but "strictly speaking, the fact that compensation is paid does not mean the disclosure is true."
Three judges of the ICC concluded that the allegations "were absolutely unfounded, and then they suggested to dismiss the case," Mr. Ocampo told reporters yesterday. "Three other judges reviewed the case and confirmed this issue." That's why Mr. Palme "was dismissed. After that, he presented a claim to the ILO, where he got compensations. That is a human resource issue."
The Sudanese authorities, who have already called Mr. Ocampo a "criminal," are expected to use the new publicity surrounding the incident to fight his case against Mr. Bashir. On Monday, Mr. Ocampo asked ICC judges to indict Mr. Bashir for genocide and war crimes. The judges are expected to make a decision within three months, but the Security Council might decide to defer the case for a year.
The ICC now has evidence that Darfur refugees in U.N.-run camps are harassed and attacked, Mr. Ocampo said yesterday. There are "rapes in the camps, some killings, arrests of the leaders, and basically hindering all U.N. assistance," he said. Without that assistance, he added, the refugees in the camps would die, and therefore he filed a charge of genocide, he said.