Germany calls for US to back off from world court sanctions

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BERLIN (AP) — Germany on Friday added its voice to criticism of U.S. sanctions against two top officials of the International Criminal Court, appealing to Washington to withdraw the measures and describing them as “a serious mistake.”

The comments by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas followed calls Thursday for the U.S. to reverse course from his French counterpart and European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced sanctions Wednesday against the chief prosecutor of the court, based in The Hague, and a top aide, for continuing investigations into the United States and its allies. The sanctions include a freeze on assets held in the U.S. or subject to U.S. law and target prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and the court’s head of jurisdiction, Phakiso Mochochoko.

Pompeo had previously imposed a travel ban on Bensouda and other tribunal employees over investigations into allegations of torture and other crimes by Americans in Afghanistan.

The U.S. has never been party to the court. Pompeo said the U.S. would not tolerate “its illegitimate attempts to subject Americans to its jurisdiction.”

Germany’s Maas said that “we have full confidence in the work of the International Criminal Court and consider it a serious mistake that the U.S. has decided on this further step.”

“We are continuing to work for the International Criminal Court to be able to fulfill unhindered its indispensable role in the the international fight against impunity, and appeal to the United States to withdraw the measures,” Maas said in a statement.

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