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Warrant issued for Sudan’s leader

Posted by tothewire on March 4, 2009

Warrant issued for Sudan’s leader

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on 3 March 2009
Omar al-Bashir says the charges reflect Western hostility towards Sudan

The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Sudan’s president on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

But the court in The Hague stopped short of accusing Omar al-Bashir of genocide. He denies the charges.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of the capital, Khartoum, after the announcement, amid fears of unrest.

The UN estimates about 300,000 people have died and millions been displaced in six years of conflict in Darfur.

It will not be worth the ink it is written on
President Omar al-Bashir

Court spokeswoman Laurence Blairon said Mr Bashir was suspected of being criminally responsible for “intentionally directing attacks against an important part of the civilian population of Darfur, Sudan, murdering, exterminating, raping, torturing and forcibly transferring large numbers of civilians and pillaging their property”.

She said the violence in Darfur was the result of a common plan organised at the highest level of the Sudanese government, but there was no evidence of genocide.

The court would transmit a request for Mr Bashir’s arrest and surrender as soon as possible to the Sudanese government, she added.

It is the ICC’s first warrant against a sitting head of state.

ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo made the request for the warrant in July 2008.

‘Toothless’

Reacting to the charges, an aide to Mr Bashir said the Hague judges were biased.

“This decision is exactly what we have been expecting from the court, which was created to target Sudan and to be part of the new mechanism of neo-colonialism,” Mustafa Othman Ismail told Sudanese TV.

Speaking on Tuesday ahead of the announcement, Mr Bashir said the Hague tribunal could “eat” the arrest warrant.

He said it would “not be worth the ink it is written on” and then danced for thousands of cheering supporters who burned an effigy of the ICC chief prosecutor.

Sudanese children at Darfur refugee camp - 26/6/2008

Sudan expert Alex de Waal told the BBC the indictment is “pretty toothless” as the ICC does not have a police force and the warrant will be delivered to Sudan’s government, which is unlikely to execute it.

Heavy security is in place in Khartoum and large pro-Bashir demonstrations are expected.

But there is also a strong feeling in the city – albeit seldom openly expressed – in support of an indictment, says the BBC’s Peter Martell in Khartoum.

The war crimes court has already issued two arrest warrants – in 2007 – for Sudanese Humanitarian Affairs Minister Ahmed Haroun and the Janjaweed militia leader Ali Abdul Rahman. Sudan has refused to hand them over.

 

http://news.bbc.co.uk

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