David Matsanga takes on ICC judge over graft claims

David Matsanga

Two senior officials of the International Criminal Court (ICC) are under investigation following sensational claims of misconduct against them, The Standard on Sunday can reveal.

In an expose that could offer a glimpse into under-dealings of the court if confirmed, Court President and Judge Silvia Fernandez de Gurmendi, Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and her predecessor Moreno Ocampo are being investigated by the court’s Independent Oversight Mechanism (IOM).

Ninety per cent of the claims are however levelled against Gurmendi, a former special adviser and director of jurisdiction, complementarity and cooperation division at the Office of Prosecutor of ICC (OTP) between 2003 and 2006. She later became a judge in 2010.

Last month, Ugandan activist David Matsanga bombarded the court with communications accusing Mr Ocampo, Ms Bensouda (in her capacity as Ocampo’s deputy) and Gurmendi (ex-OTP official) of involvement in an alleged intricate web of graft in the witness process.

Mr Matsanga claimed huge amounts of money were channeled into Gurmendi’s accounts, which he claims were used to secure the indictment of Sudan’s President Omar Bashir by procuring witnesses.

Transfer of money

“They reject them (allegations) categorically. The ICC notes that this is not the first time Matsanga has attacked the court and its officials. Upon their immediate request, the matter has been referred by the registrar to the ICC’s Independent Oversight Mechanism for investigation,” court spokesman Fadi El Abdalla told The Standard on Sunday.

The tone of Mr Abdalla’s response is however in sharp contrast to independent reports of a restless court in the wake of Matsanga’s claims.

Matsanga has previously given the court streams of communication which were either ignored or rebuffed altogether but not this time round.

His latest claims were first raised in an application filed on June 14, a letter to Gurmendi on same day and a June 28 long-winded letter to Bensouda warning that a “hurricane was gathering in the ocean” to the court’s detriment.

The most curious of Matsanga’s set of evidence is a transfer of money to a company called Bartin Holdings domiciled in South Africa and to the benefit of Consulate General of Madagascar in Romania.

The first transfer dated April 20, 2007 is inscribed “care of” “Jose Luis Fernandez/Ms Silvia Alejandra Fernandez de Gurmendi.” It involved 2,694 Euros sent to the consulate for “economic mission in Madagascar” services rendered between April 25 and May 3, 2007.

An online search of the South African address in the invoice showed that Capespan (Pty) Ltd of Registration Number 1998/022574/07 is the one domiciled on Parc du Cap, Mispel Road, Bellville, 7530, South Africa and using the postal address of PO Box 505, Bellville, 7535, South Africa.
The main business of the company (Capespan) is international marketing of fruits.

In his set of evidence, Matsanga links Bartin to an earlier transfer of 250,000 dollars on November 29, 2004 from Napex International Ltd, a Bahamas based firm.

On the same day, Bartin got its Napex dollars, Matsanga claims, activists and NGOs close to Darfur rebel groups received their set of dollars. Among them were organisations referred to as CBI, Atlantic Corp, Genesis International Holdings.

Matsanga also went on to detail Gurmendi’s alleged accounts at First Caribbean Bank and Bango Popular in Virgin Islands.

“The total amount of funds available in the accounts of Ms Fernandez were more than 17 million dollars; Doesn’t it raise a query as why a judge who is not in corporate business could have such amounts channeled or laundered through her various accounts?” Matsanga’s documents to OTP queried.

The court appears to slight Matsanga’s claims on account of his vexing past. The fact that the matter has been transferred to IOM as the first high profile case however sends mixed signals.

“It is now up to the Oversight Mechanism to examine the matter in an independent and impartial manner and report on it in due course,” the ICC spokesman said.

The IOM is however a fairly nascent institution, approved way back in 2009 but only operationalised in the last one year largely due to pressure from African countries and Kenya in particular.

Lending credence to its inexperience is information posted on the court’s website which says that the “IOM is expected to become fully operational during the course of 2016”.