Judges at the International Criminal Court have issued an arrest warrant for the president of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, for war crimes and crimes against humanity. But they stopped short of charging him with genocide, as prosecutors wanted.
As of this afternoon, President Omar al-Bashir is a wanted man.
Judges found there is enough evidence to arrest him on seven counts, including murder, extermination, rape and torture for crimes committed in Darfur since 2003.
Prosecutors had asked judges in July to also charge President al-Bashir with genocide. They say that as president and commander in chief of the country's armed forces, he is the one who orchestrated the counter-insurgency campaign that has left some 300,000 people dead and over 2.5 million people displaced. President Al Bashir may be a sitting head of state, but judges say that does not grant him immunity from this court.
Chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo agreed.
"As soon as al-Bashir travels through international airspace he can be arrested," he said. "Like Slobodan Milosevic or Charles Taylor, Omar al-Bashir's destiny is to face justice. It will be in two months or two years, but he will face justice."
Dozens of protesters outside the court, many of them refugees from Darfur, cheered the decision.
Prosecutor Moreno Ocampo, meanwhile, played down the lack of genocide charges, saying he may appeal that at a later date, and played up the historic moment: the first time this court has issued an arrest warrant for a sitting head of state. It's now up to Sudanese authorities to arrest him. If they don't, which is likely, it's up to the U.N. Security Council to ensure Mr. al-Bashir's arrest - effective immediately.