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The Argentinian prosecutor and expert in criminal law is to take part ‘in the procedure to recover the wreckage of the Polish TU154M plane from Russia’. In his interview with newspaper 'Dziennik Gazeta Prawna' Moreno-Ocampo said ‘I provide independent and unbiased opinion, based on international law, which aims to resolve the problem and to have the plane wreckage returned.’
The Government hired the former Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Louis Moreno-Ocampo, so that he could help bring the wreckage of the Tu-154 to Poland – informed “Dziennik Gazeta Prawna” on Monday.
According to the newspaper, the Argentinian prosecutor and expert in criminal law is to take part ‘in the procedure to recover the wreck of the Polish plane from Russia’. In his interview with the newspaper Moreno-Ocampo said that Antoni Macierewicz, the head of the Ministry of National Defence, talked to him on behalf of the Polish Government. The contract covers an attempt to recover the wreckage of the plane that crashed on 10th April 2010 in Smolensk and – as Moreno-Ocampo said in his interview with “DGP” – ‘Polish-Russian relations in this particular matter’.
‘I provide independent and unbiased opinion, based on international law, which aims to resolve the problem and to have the plane wreck returned,’ declared the lawyer. He noted that both parties agreed that his contribution ‘is to be of expert, advisory nature only with respect to international law’.
Moreno-Ocampo says he will listen to the cockpit recordings. ‘It is necessary to carry out a scientific analysis of the recording, determine what really happened and whether anyone actually entered the cockpit or not,’ said Moreno-Ocampo in the interview with “DGP”.
‘I believe that it is important that both the Polish and Russian side agree on what was said in the pilot’s cabin. The thing is, we need to find the common ground for all parties of this matter,’ he concluded.
He promised to focus on the ‘international law issues that might be used to improve Polish-Russian relations’. When asked about emotions and opinions related to the crash, Moreno-Ocampo said:
‘Minister Macierewicz explained that he wanted an independent opinion. He did not say what he thought. He put me in touch with experts who analyse the evidence.’
The Polish Government hired the former Prosecutor of the International Criminal court, Louis Moreno-Ocampo, so that he could help bring the wreck of Tupolev back to Poland. The lawyer talks to Magdalena Rigamonti on how he intends to do that.
Who hired you?
The Polish Government. I was asked to participate in the procedure intended to recover the wreckage of the Polish plane from Russia, based on international law and my experience in resolving international conflicts.
Why did you agree?
As a young man, when I was working as a prosecutor in Argentina, I was involved in the investigation against the military dictatorship of general Jorge Rafael Videla. The year was 1985. It was the first such great investigation against tyrants since the Nuremberg trials. My role was to prepare the proceedings. However, many people from my country just did not acknowledge what really happened in Argentina. What kinds of crimes were committed, how many people were murdered by junta. Even my very own mother was convinced that general Videla protects the society against partisans. I must say that only as the proceedings continued, my mother changed her mind. What is more, she experienced a kind of transformation. Two weeks in, she called me and said: ‘I still love general Videla, but you are right, he should end up in prison’.
But Poland is a small country in Eastern Europe. Why are you interested in it?
I say this, because in my work, a former prosecutor, head of the International Criminal Court in Hague, now an international advisor, what is most important is the truth. I know that when Poland regained independence, the Polish people experienced the very same emotions that the Argentinians did, when the military dictatorship rule ended. I had the opportunity to see it with my very own eyes how much truth changes a country.
We regained independence in 1989. This was when the era of dictators ended.
I know this, of course, and I am far from suggesting that you are dealing with dictators now. I wanted to emphasize the meaning of truth. For many years, I thought that the case of military dictatorship in Argentina would be the greatest proceedings of my life. Until 2003, when I was appointed to run the International Criminal Court in Hague.
Then you began dealing with matters from all over the world.
Yes, in a sense. It turned out that what I experienced in Argentina became a training ground for new cases. As a head of the International Criminal Court, I dealt with many leaders, many presidents. However, the fundamental issue in all these matters was the truth. I dealt with the genocide in Darfur, I led the investigation on the crimes against humanity committed both by the Libyan security forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi and by the opposition to the Gaddafi’s government, I moved to ICC to issue an arrest warrant of Gaddafi, his son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, and the head of the intelligence service, Abdullah Senussi, for crimes against humanity. I was also involved in the Georgia conflict in 2008, so the matters of Russia were also in the area of my operations.
President Lech Kaczyński was also involved in this matter. Did you meet Polish politicians then?
No. I talked to Russian delegations. Over the nine years of heading the International Criminal Court, I had to brief the UN Security council twenty times on different matters. This concerned not only criminal investigations but also the way the diplomacies work.
Who exactly invited you to cooperate with the Polish Government?
Antoni Macierewicz, Minister of National Defence.
Was this an official invitation?
Yes, we signed a contract.
What exactly does it cover, what does the contract between you and the Polish Government entail?
An attempt to recover the wreck of the plane that crashed at Smolensk.
And what else?
Polish-Russian relations in this particular matter.
What are your duties towards the Polish Government?
I provide independent and unbiased opinion, based on international law, which aims to resolve the problem and to have the plane wreck returned.
Have you signed a confidentiality clause?
As always in such matters, I’m authorized to receive confidential information, but my opinion will be independent and unbiased.
Have you met Minister Macierewicz in person?
And Jarosław Kaczyński?
No, only Minister Macierewicz.
What did it look like, in practice?
We talked really openly. We both agreed that my contribution will be of expert, advisory nature only, in the context of international law.
Where will you begin?
The first thing I would like to do is to listen to the conversations in the cockpit during the last hour of the flight of 10 April 2010, because from what I know, there are and function different versions of the conversations from the cabin of the governmental plane that crashed in Smolensk. It is necessary to carry out a scientific analysis of the recording, determine what really happened and whether anyone actually entered the cockpit or not. I believe that we are able to clarify what these conversations look like, what happened there. Of course, it is difficult to talk about this right now, but I have not read the entire material yet.
When will you do so?
Very soon, I hope. The team that works on this matter in Poland will send me recordings that are at the disposal of Poland. This is where I’m going to start. I believe that it is important that both the Polish and the Russians agree on what was said in the pilot’s cabin. The thing is, we need to find the common ground for all parties of this matter.
Am I right to understand that this will be a kind of an investigation?
No, not at all. There is a group of experts who run the investigation, there is the Smolensk committee. I’m not going to supervise that. My area is to concern using international law so that one version of what was said in the cockpit is adopted. I’m going to focus on international law issues that might be used to improve Polish-Russian relations.
Are you aware of the fact that the Smolensk investigation was closed and that the causes of the crash – explained?
However, there are still many conflicting opinions about the Smolensk crash and I believe that my work will help clarify any doubts and to lay the grounds for a common understanding in this matter. I believe that before joining the talks with Russia about the return of the wreck, we need to establish a common version of events in the cockpit.
The wrack has been in the Russian territory for the past seven years.
Please note that I have not promised a success to the Polish Government, I only promised that I will try to help. I think that Poland deserves to get that help. The matter has many dimensions, as it concerns both the Polish-Russian relations as well as the Poland itself and the Polish people, too. We know that what happened in Smolensk is very important to the Polish people.
As an outstanding lawyer, don’t you think that the fact that the wreck of the Polish plane is still in Russia is absurd?
I will certainly not allow myself to use any epithets or descriptions of the situation. I belive that this situation can still be resolved. I would like to participate in it.
I hope that you know that you can be dragged into a political game. That Smolensk divides Polish people.
I know, but in Argentina, when I was involved in the process of the military dictatorship versus the Argentinian dictator, Jorge Videla and his subordinates, the situation was very similar. Nowadays I live in New York, I lecture at Harvard and I can see the division that is in place in the United States. I also know that the truth usually is one of the victims of such polarisation. This is why I agreed it with Minister Macierewicz that my contribution will be fully impartial. He agreed. The contract made between me and the Polish Government contains an impartiality principle.
Don’t you think that Minister Macierewicz involved you so only to make sure that it was no crash in Smolensk, it was no catastrophe, but an assassination?
‘Minister Macierewicz explained that he wanted an independent opinion.
He didn’t tell you that he believes that Smolensk was an assassination?
He did not say what he thought. He contacted me with experts who analyse the evidence.’
Perhaps you don’t know, but on the tenth day of each month, for the past seven years, monthly anniversaries, great manifestations are held before the Presidential Palace, during which the leader of the governing party speaks like this: the truth will come out, we are close, those guilty will be punished. He talks about an assassination, people being murdered, being killed in action.
And this is exactly because of these motions in the discussions about Smolensk that we need someone impartial to take on this matter. Please remember that I have been involved in negotiations, in resolving different national and international conflicts all my life. Of course, there have been different opinions about my involvement for one of the sides. However, the very fact that an international expert is involved has a chance of affecting the relations between Poland and Russia. I am used to controversy, so if I am criticised by someone in Poland, so be it. I do not plan to speak for one of the sides, to make a name for myself in politics. Ever since I left the International Criminal Court, I do two things: I lecture at Harvard and I work as a consultant. Sometimes for private entities, sometimes for governments. In Columbia, I helped in the negotiations between their government and FARC-EP, a huge partisan organisation. I met presidents of countries and partisan leaders many times. I am certain that my independence and impartiality is a huge advantage in negotiations. And as we managed to establish peace in Columbia, to settle down the parties that has fought each other for 50 years, it seems to me that the Polish matter is within the grasp of me and my co-workers. The matter of Polish-Russian negotiations on the Smolensk crash and the wreck.
Don’t you think that involving you by the Polish Government is an expression of its helplessness?
No. I believe that it is difficult to resolve an international conflict from a level of a national state. I hope I can help. I will certainly try.
You are Argentinian, we are Slav. These are two different ways of thinking, two mentalities, two souls.
But law is the law. And I am following the path of international law.
When are you coming to Poland?
I am not sure yet.
How did you meet Minister Macierewicz?
This is a story for another time.
Translated by smolenskcrash.eu