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  • on 17.06.2015
  • at 03:52 PM
  • by Kevin Hind

Fatou Bensouda, the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor (ICC): “If the Violence Continues in Burundi, I Could Open a Preliminary Examination” 1

One month after the above statement of May 8th, Fatou Bensouda is increasing the pressure on those involved in serious crimes in Burundi. In this exclusive interview with the news agency Infos Grands Lacs (IGL), Afronline’s media partner, the International Criminal Court‘s chief prosecutor says that  “if the violence continues in Burundi, I could open a preliminary examination”.

 “I address all those who could commit serious crimes: do not do so and do not incite anyone to commit violent acts. Do not order or look to cause violence. Encourage no one to perpetrate violence. Have no part in such actions. Those who commit such crimes run the risk of being tried and sentenced to a maximum term of 30 years in prison, or possibly even a life sentence. If this message is not heard and the violence continues, I could open a preliminary examination”. The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor thus confirms that she is watching “the situation very closely”.

She underlines that “the political leaders must ensure that their supporters commit no violence before, during or after the elections. If crimes are committed, the State (Burundi) must investigate such matters by prosecuting those that are responsible. Failing this, the ICC may intervene. Burundians can and must prevent electoral violence”.

The outgoing President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term triggered on April 26th a protest movement which has resulted in around 40 deaths and forced more than 100,000 Burundians to flee towards neighbouring countries, including dozens of journalists and opposition politicians who believe they are threatened by the Burundian government.

Fatou Bensouda stresses that “as of now, no investigation has been opened and my office is thus not collecting evidence”. However, “since April we have seen extremely troubling acts of violence which have pushed many people to leave their homes and caused massive population displacements. Certain militias have had the task of intimidating and threatening people. Along with a great number of Burundians, I remain concerned about anything that could transform the current situation into one of general chaos”. For Fatou Bensouda, “this situation must be avoided at all costs”.

Lastly, the ICC’s chief prosecutor wishes to deny the rumours that she had ordered an African bank to freeze the assets of senior Burundian leaders: “it is completely false”.

by Joshua Massarenti – Info Grands Lacs (Afronline)

Translated by Kevin Hind

Click Here to read/listen to the original interview in French

Photo Credit: Stephan Röhl – Flickr/Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung

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  1. HUSNA MOHAMMED BELLO says:

    The world must not standby and allow Burundi to degenerate to another Rwanda.The United Nations Security Council,The ICC and the African Union must act now to avoid another genocide and crimes against humanity

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