[dehai-news] (ST) Sudan says fighter jets may guard Bashir's flight to Qatar; France supports arrest

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From: Biniam Haile \(SWE\) (eritrea.lave@comhem.se)
Date: Mon Mar 16 2009 - 16:21:18 EST

Sudan says fighter jets may guard Bashir's flight to Qatar; France
supports arrest

Monday 16 March 2009 05:00.
March 15, 2009 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan said it is undertaking extraordinary
measures for president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir's trip to the Arab Gulf
state of Qatar later this month as France voiced support to any attempt
to apprehend the Sudanese leader.
Sudan has confirmed yesterday that Al-Bashir will attend the Arab League
annual summit and the Arab Latin summit that will be held in Doha on
March 30th.
One of Bashir's advisers Abdallah Massar told the London based Al-Sharq
Al-Awsat that it is likely that the government "will have special
arrangements" in place for the flight.
Massar said that having Sudanese fighter jets accompany the presidential
plane "is something to be determined by concerned agencies in the
But another security official speaking to Al-Sharq Al-Awsat on condition
of anonymity confirmed that military fighters will guard Bashir's flight
in Sudanese airspace.
The official also said that there may be "camouflage" tactics deployed
"in light of threats by rebels to shoot down the plane" before
expressing doubt about the ability of them to do so.
"We can say that we will not have the slightest trouble in flying the
president safely to Qatar god willing to attend the Arab summit" he
If Bashir travels to Qatar it will be his first foreign trip since the
ICC issued an arrest warrant for him last week on seven counts of war
crimes and crimes against humanity, which include murder, rape and
The ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said last week that Bashir risks
apprehension once he leaves Sudan.
The ICC spokeswoman Laurence Blairon in an interview with Agence France
Presse (AFP) yesterday urged Qatar to cooperate with the court in
apprehending Bashir.
"The court counts on the cooperation of states and therefore of Qatar,
but it does not have its own police force," she said.
"Qatar is not a state member of the Rome Statute, the founding text of
the ICC, but it is a member of the United Nations" Blairon added.
The Sudanese state minister for foreign affairs Al-Samani Al-Wasila
downplayed chances of attempts to apprehend Bashir.
"They will not be able to do anything because intercepting a plane is a
criminal act of piracy punishable by law unless they decide to down the
plane" Al-Wasila said.
But Eric Chevallier, spokesman of the French foreign said that Paris
"strongly" supports any operation aimed at arresting the Sudanese
"France as many other countries are members of the Rome Statute. There
are clear obligations on executing arrest warrant for Bashir" Chevallier
told Al-Sharq Al-Awsat in an interview.
The French official said that the majority of the European Union (EU)
countries "are pushing towards having ICC members and non-members to
assist the court in executing the arrest warrant for Sudanese president
especially if he flies to Qatar".
France has military bases in the African state of Djibouti and Arab Gulf
State of United Arab Emirates (UAE). It remains to be seen whether Paris
will utilize its air force to bring Bashir's plane down en route to
In December 2006 the ICC arranged an operation along with a number of
countries including a neighbor of Sudan to divert a plan carrying
Sudanese state minister for humanitarian affairs Ahmed Haroun who wanted
to perform the annual Islamic pilgrimage on a forged passport.
Saudi Arabia was notified of the plan, the ICC prosecutor told Sudan
Tribune at the time. Khartoum said it was "infuriated" that some
countries were willing to take part in the operation.
Haroun, who is also wanted by the ICC, ended up cancelling his travel
plans thwarting the plot to nab him.
The Sudanese security official said that it is "unlikely" that Bashir's
plane will be prevented from landing in Doha international airport.
"This is not possible and will not happen. We have our own arrangements
but will not talk about it in international media" he said. Furthermore
he said that the time of Bashir's flight will not be made public.
Sudan rejects the jurisdiction of the ICC saying it has not ratified its
founding Rome Statute treaty. The UN Security Council (UNSC) invoked its
power under the Statute to refer Darfur case to the Hague-based court
despite Sudan not being an ICC member.


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