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EU ‘standing by’ ICC after US sanctions top prosecutor

BRUSELLS — The European Union will defend the International Criminal Court against attempts to undermine it, a spokesman for the bloc says after Washington slapped sanctions on the Hague-based tribunal’s top prosecutor.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced sanctions yesterday against ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and another senior court official, Phakiso Mochochoko, over a war crimes probe into US military personnel in Afghanistan.

Washington has long rejected the ICC’s jurisdiction over US citizens, but the court’s investigation into allegations of atrocities in Afghanistan has seen US President Donald Trump’s administration turn low-level opposition into a concerted campaign against the institution.

“The International Criminal Court is facing persistent external challenges and the European Union stands firm against all attempts to undermine the international system of criminal justice by hindering the work of its core institutions,” Peter Stano, spokesman for EU diplomatic chief Josep Borrell, tells reporters.

“We are committed to strengthen our support to the ICC because this is key factor in fighting against impunity. We are standing by the ICC and we are not happy to see steps which are going against the activities of the ICC.”

Pompeo has dismissed the ICC as a “kangaroo court” and the US insists it has its own procedures for investigating allegations against its troops.

— AFP

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