[dehai-news] abcnews.go.com: ICC Prosecutor Says Al-Bashir Evidence Is Strong

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From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Tue Mar 03 2009 - 11:54:42 EST

ICC Prosecutor Says Al-Bashir Evidence Is Strong

International prosecutor says he has strong evidence in genocide case
against Sudan president

By MIKE CORDER Associated Press Writer
THE HAGUE, Netherlands March 3, 2009 (AP)

The Associated Press

The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor said Tuesday that he has
strong evidence that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir controlled a
genocidal campaign aimed at wiping out three ethnic African tribes in his
country's Darfur region.

Judges at the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal have said they
will announce Wednesday whether they are issuing an arrest warrant for the
Sudanese leader.

Smiling and waving at a dam-opening ceremony in northern Sudan, al-Bashir
insulted the court and danced for supporters who torched an effigy of
Argentine prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo.

"They will issue their decision tomorrow, and we are telling them to immerse
it in water and drink it," al-Bashir said, using a common Arabic phrase
conveying extreme disrespect. Thousands congregated to hear al-Bashir at the
opening of the Nile dam funded by China and several Persian Gulf countries

U.N. officials are deeply worried about Sudanese reprisals if an arrest
warrant is issued, and have said they fear al-Bashir will attempt to expel a
joint African Union-U.N. peacekeeping force.

The war in Darfur began in 2003 when rebel groups took up arms against the
government complaining of discrimination and neglect. So far, up to 300,000
people have died and 2.7 million have fled their homes, according to U.N.

Moreno Ocampo alleges that Sudanese troops and the Janjaweed Arab militia
they support murdered civilians and continued to prey on them in refugee
camps by using a systematic campaign of rape to drive women into the desert,
where they die of starvation.

Moreno Ocampo said he has more than 30 witnesses who will testify that
al-Bashir engaged in genocidal acts.

"The intention was to exterminate three ethnic groups and that is why it is
genocide according to our view," he told reporters at the court's
headquarters in The Hague.

Moreno Ocampo also claimed that Sudanese agents had offered prominent Darfur
refugees money to speak out against the court or claim they lied to
investigators. He did not elaborate but said that al-Bashir's agents "try to
undermine our credibility in this way."

If judges decide against issuing a warrant, Moreno Ocampo said he would

Prosecutors sought the warrants for al-Bashir in July on 10 charges of
genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Al-Bashir denies the
charges and his government does not accept the court's

Legal experts say the three-judge panel that has taken seven months to
analyze hundreds of pages of evidence is likely to issue a warrant on some,
if not all of the charges. It would be the first time the court had ordered
the arrest of a sitting head of state since it opened its doors in 2002.

"I would expect the court to issue arrest warrants," said Andre Nollkaemper,
a professor of international law at Amsterdam University.

Nollkaemper said judges at the court will not be taking fears of reprisal
into account.

"I do not think the court will, at this stage of proceedings, engage in a
balance between justice versus peace," he said.


Associated Press Writer Mohamed Osman in Khartoum, Sudan contributed to this report.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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