The prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo
has asked for an arrest warrant for Sudan President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, accusing him of masterminding genocide and war crimes in
Sudan's Darfur region. A three-judge panel is expected to take weeks
or months to decide whether a warrant of arrest can be issued. From
London, Tendai Maphosa has more.
Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo
made the announcement at a press conference at the International
Criminal Court headquarters in The Hague.
"I just submitted an
application requesting to the pre-trial chamber Number-three to issue
an arrest warrant against Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir for genocide,
crimes against humanity and war crimes," he said.
But Moreno-Ocampo stressed he was not indicting President Bashir.
like to be very clear on this; I am requesting a decision to the
judges, they can agree with my application, they can dismiss my
application they can do something different, they can request more
evidence," he said. "So, the judges have the power now to decide."
prosecutor also said if indicted Mr. Bashir could face three counts of
genocide, and charges of causing serious mental harm, and deliberately
inflicting conditions calculated to bring about physical destruction.
He added the president could also face five counts of crimes against
humanity, including murder, extermination, forcible transfer of the
population, torture and rape.
Should the judges decide to
issue a warrant for Mr. Bashir's arrest, he would become the first
serving head of state to be indicted by the ICC.
not recognize the ICC and has steadfastly refused to hand over two
other suspects charged by the court, Humanitarian Affairs Minister
Ahmad Harun and Janjaweed militia leader Ali Kushayb.
decision to pursue the case against President al-Bashir has been met
with hostility by the Sudanese who say it will jeopardize peace talks
between the government and Darfur rebels.
Khalid al Mubabrak,
the Sudanese Embassy spokesman in London, dismissed the charges against
his president as false. He underscored the fact the ICC has no
jurisdiction over Sudan.
"Just like the United States of America
we have not ratified the Statute of Rome, which created the ICC," said
Mubarak. "Sudan has got its own judicial system it is quite efficient
it has already looked into matters about Darfur, indicted some people,
set some people free imprisoned some people."
Mubarak added the
prosecutor's action could actually prolong the Darfur crisis as it
might encourage Darfur rebels to step up their insurgency.
on government installations by Darfur rebels in 2003 set off the
crisis. The Sudanese government allegedly responded by arming militias
that forcibly displaced hundreds of thousands of people.
United Nations estimates that 300,000 people have died as a result
of the conflict. More than two million are said to be displaced, the
majority of them living in camps in Darfur.