The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor has requested an arrest warrant for Sudan's defense minister, who allegedly helped to plan atrocities in the Darfur region.
Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein is accused of coordinating attacks against villages in Darfur between August 2003 and March 2004.
The prosecutor's office says the attacks followed a pattern in which the villages were surrounded, bombed by the Sudanese air force, and then attacked by troops and "Janjaweed" militia, who killed and raped villagers.
Sudan's foreign ministry dismissed the move as politically motivated. It says prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo timed the request to coincide with what it called victories by Sudanese government forces against rebels in the states of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile.
A panel of judges at the Hague-based court must now review the evidence and decide whether to issue a warrant for Hussein's arrest.
At the time of the attacks, Hussein was Sudan's interior minister and President Omar al-Bashir's special representative in Darfur.
The ICC has already indicted President Bashir and another top official on charges of masterminding a campaign of murder, rape, and other crimes in Darfur.
Bashir has so far avoided arrest by traveling only to countries that will not hand him to the ICC.
Rebels in Darfur took up arms against the Bashir government in 2003, accusing the government of neglecting their region. The U.N. says more than 300,000 people have been killed in the conflict, and 2.7 million others displaced.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.