From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Tue Mar 03 2009 - 08:49:36 EST
Bashir arrest 'to be outside Sudan'
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
The International Criminal Court prosecutor has said that if judges issue an
arrest warrant for Omar al-Bashir, Sudan's president, he will be arrested
soon after he leaves the country.
"As soon as Bashir flies outside of Sudan he could be arrested," Luis Moreno
Ocampo, who is seeking to prosecute al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and
genocide in the western Sudanese province of Darfur, told Al Jazeera on
"There is no immunity from international law."
Ocampo said that "no one will try to arrest Mr Bashir in Sudan", although he
said that international law would require the Sudanese government to act if
an arrest warrant was issued.
The ICC is expected to announce its decision on Wednesday.
Al-Bashir has dismissed the charges against him and refuses to recognise the
UN officials say that as many as 300,000 people have been killed in the
Darfur conflict since 2003, while Khartoum says only 10,000 have died.
A further 2.7 million people are estimated to have been uprooted by the
conflict, which began when mostly non-Arab fighters took up arms against the
government, demanding better representation and infrastructure for their
Braced for backlash
In Sudan, Alain Le Roy, the head of UN peacekeeping operations, said that UN
forces were preparing for possible violence if the ICC issues an arrest
warrant for al-Bashir, but that he did not expect UN forces to be targeted.
"We have contingency planning to try to react to any situation," he said on
Le Roy said that the two UN missions in Sudan - one in Darfur and the other
monitoring a 2005 north-south peace deal - would neither move nor change
their normal patrolling activities whatever the ICC judges ruled.
"We have contingency planning to try to react to any situation," he said.
"A decision which might affect the president of the country might have an
effect on the ground, so it's important for us to be ready to answer ...
We'll have to see how we'll react. I cannot give you the detail of what we
are going to do," he said.
Neither of the UN peacekeeping missions in Sudan have a mandate to arrest
al-Bashir, Le Roy said.
But one of Darfur's main rebel groups has offered to assist any arrest
"Bashir must go before the ICC, whether voluntarily or against his will,"
Khalil Ibrahim, head of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), said.
'Violence and crime'
Ibrahim has accused Sudan's government of planning riots if ICC issues an
arrest warrant, and said that his group would respond to any government
"They are planning demonstrations ... I expect there may be violence and
crime. I warn the government that any such action will be met with
counter-measures, even in Khartoum. Violence will be met with violence,"
"Any loss of lives or property is their responsibility."
China, the African Union and the Arab League have warned it could
destabilise the region and threaten a troubled peace deal between north
Sudan and the semi-autonomous south.
Foreign ministers for Arab countries will discuss their possible response to
an arrest warrant for al-Bashir at a meeting in Cairo.
Some Western embassies have warned their citizens of the potential for
violent protests if al-Bashir is charged.
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