ICC prosecutor receives Kabila letter on war crimes

Congolese President Joseph Kabila has written to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno Ocampo, asking him to investigate alleged wars crimes that may have been committed anywhere in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In a statement issued from its headquarters in The Hague, the ICC said on Monday that Kabila's letter refers Ocampo to the situation of crimes, within the court's jurisdiction, that may have been committed in the Congo since the entry into force of the Rome Statute on 1 July 2002.

"By means of this letter, the DRC asked the prosecutor to investigate in order to determine if one or more persons should be charged with such crimes, and the authorities committed to cooperate with the International Criminal Court," the court reported.

It said after receiving several communications from individuals and NGOs, Ocampo had in July 2003 announced that he would closely follow the situation in the Congo, and that the situation would be a priority for his office.

"Since then, the office has continued its work in analysing the situation in the DRC, especially in Ituri," the court reported.

In September 2003, Ocampo informed the Assembly of States Parties that he would be prepared to seek authorisation from a pre-trial chamber to start an investigation but that a referral and active support from the Congo would facilitate his work.

"In accordance with the Rome Statute, the prosecutor will now proceed to determine whether there is a reasonable basis to initiate an investigation in respect of the situation referred," the court reported.

"The Office of the prosecutor will, therefore, assure itself of the basis for an investigation under the Statute and examine the modalities for such an investigation, in order to reach an informed decision," it said.