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ICC Issues Second Arrest Warrant for Sudan's al-Bashir

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, 8 Jun 2010.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, 8 Jun 2010.

The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir for the crime of genocide. It is the second ICC warrant for his arrest. In 2009, Mr. Bashir was charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.

ICC spokesperson Sonja Robla says President Bashir is charged with genocide against three ethnic groups. "The judges of the court think that there are reasonable grounds to believe that al-Bashir is responsible for three counts of genocide committed against the Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa ethnic groups," she said.

The ICC first issued an arrest warrant for the Sudanese leader last year. In 2009, genocide was omitted from the list of charges because of insufficient evidence. But Robla says on appeal, the ICC judges decided there were "reasonable grounds" to believe he is responsible for genocide.

"This concrete case of al-Bashir now includes genocide by killing, genocide by causing serious bodily or mental harm, and genocide by deliberately inflicting on each target group conditions of life calculated to bring about the group's physical destruction," Robla said.

President Bashir denies the charges against him and has not been arrested.

Elise Kepler is from International Justice Program at New York-based Human Rights Watch. She says the United Nations Security Council needs to put more pressure on Sudan to cooperate with the arrest warrant. "It's essential that the council play its part to ensure that Bashir and the other suspects appear before the International Criminal Court so that there can be justice done. It's not enough to have the cases in motion, you have to have the suspects before the court," she said.

Mr. Bashir is the first sitting head of state to be indicted by the ICC.

The international court's warrant was opposed by a number of countries as well as the African Union, which has argued that Mr. Bashir's arrest will hinder the Darfur peace process.

According to the United Nations, up to 300,000 people have died in Sudan's western region of Darfur since conflict broke out seven years ago.