(Rapaport… September 24, 2003) Companies who bought or dealt in “conflict diamonds” from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), could be charged with complicity in war crimes and genocide by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC, which came into existence in 2002 and has the mandate of trying war crimes and genocide, will investigate businesses in at least 29 countries.
Luis Moreno Ocampo, ICC chief prosecutor, said on September 23, 2003, that the genocide in DRC, which resulted in the death of over three million people, was the “most important case since World War Two.” He warned that exposing international money flows would be an important part of his work. Ocampo added that suspected foreign businessmen and firms who supplied cash or weapons in exchange for diamonds to people they knew were guilty of war crimes, are just as liable to be prosecuted as those who carried out the atrocities.
Ocampo said he would be gathering information from national prosecutors in countries as far away as Canada, the U.S., UK, Russia, Finland, Zimbabwe and Hong Kong, where the links to the purchase of blood diamonds have been discovered. “Follow the trail of the money and you will find the criminals. If you stop the money then you stop the crime,” he stated. The investigations will start in 2004.