[dehai-news] (Reuters): Court to issue Bashir warrant ruling on March 4

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From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Mon Feb 23 2009 - 17:11:22 EST

Court to issue Bashir warrant ruling on March 4

Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:59pm GMT


* ICC speaks of rumours surrounding date

* Rebel group offers to assist in arrest

AMSTERDAM, Feb 23 (Reuters) - The International Criminal Court is expected
to announce next month it will issue an arrest warrant for Sudanese
president Omar Hassan al-Bashir for genocide, crimes against humanity and
war crimes in Darfur.

Bashir, the most senior figure pursued by the court since it was set up in
2002, dismisses the allegations and refuses to deal with the ICC, calling it
part of a Western conspiracy.

The court said on Monday it would announce its decision whether to issue a
warrant for Bashir's arrest on March 4. Earlier this month, U.N. diplomats
and officials told Reuters the ICC had decided to go ahead and issue an
arrest warrant.

The court's chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo requested the warrant for
Bashir last July, making him the third sitting head of state to be charged
by an international court following Liberia's Charles Taylor and
Yugoslavia's Slobodan Milosevic.

The court said it had decided to give notice of the date of the announcement
as there "have been numerous rumours over the past weeks on a possible date
and outcome of the decision".

Ocampo accuses Bashir of orchestrating a campaign of genocide in Sudan's
western region of Darfur, starting in 2003. Ocampo has said 35,000 people
were killed outright and at least 100,000 more through starvation and

Khartoum rejects the term genocide and says 10,000 people died in the

A commander of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) said he
expected the ICC to announce the arrest warrant and his movement wanted to
assist in the arrest of Bashir to help the international community avoid
"suffering casualties".

"We support the ICC in issuing an arrest warrant for the Sudanese president
for his crimes against humanity in Darfur. we now ask the ICC and the
Security Council to delegate JEM to arrest Omar al-Bashir," Suleiman Sandal
told Reuters.

"We have the ability to reach Khartoum and Omdurman, as you have seen," he
said, referring to the group's attack on the Sudanese capital and its suburb
last May. "It would be easy to arrest him."

China, the African Union and the Arab League have all suggested that an
indictment of Bashir could destabilise the region, worsen the Darfur
conflict and threaten a troubled peace deal between north Sudan and the
semi-autonomous south. (Reporting by Aaron Gray-Block and Reed Stevenson,
additional reporting by Aziz El-Kaissouni in Khartoum; editing by Andrew

C Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved


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