- Title: UN/SUDAN: ICC prosecutor defends call for the arrest of Bashir
- Date: 18th July 2008
- Summary: (BN12) UNITED NATIONS (FILE) (REUTERS) UNITED NATIONS BUILDING
- Embargoed: 2nd August 2008 13:00
- Topics: Crime / Law Enforcement
- Reuters ID: LVA9EPIVP6X3SD6CICCV88OXQG8A
- Story Text: International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo defended his call for the arrest of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, saying the leader publicly confessed to giving the orders for mass killings.
The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on Thursday (July 17) denied Khartoum's allegations that his call for the arrest of Sudan's president for genocide was politically motivated.
ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo has accused Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of a campaign of genocide that killed 35,000 people outright, at least another 100,000 through a "slow death" and forced
5 million to flee their homes in Sudan's western Darfur region.
He asked the ICC on Monday to issue an arrest warrant for Bashir on suspicion of genocide and crimes against humanity. Sudan has dismissed Moreno-Ocampo's accusations as politically motivated.
In defending his accusation, Moreno-Ocampo said that Bashir had implicated himself by publicly declaring that one of the two men wanted by the ICC for allegedly organizing mass killings in Darfur -- Humanitarian Affairs Minister Ahmed Haroun -- had followed his orders.
"Bashir publicly said in 2007 that Haroun was following his instructions, that he would never hand over Haroun because Haroun was following his instructions. So it was like a confession, a public confession of what he did."
ICC judges are expected to make a decision on whether to issue a warrant for Bashir's arrest in October or November.
Sudan, China and South Africa have expressed concern that a formal indictment of Bashir could damage the stalled peace process aimed at ending the 5-year-old conflict in Darfur.
Moreno-Ocampo told reporters that the timing of his announcement was in no way meant to have an effect on the peace process, and he said he was always upfront with the Security Council about the timing of his case.
"I informed that I was moving my case on Darfur in December 2007.
I informed in June that I would move in July. This is the last week for the court, then after tomorrow is a recess of the court, so this was my last week to do it. I did it when I had my evidence ready," said Moreno-Ocampo.
Diplomats have said that Khartoum might retaliate against an ICC arrest warrant for Bashir by withdrawing its consent for the U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur if the Security Council does not intervene.
Diplomats in New York say the Arab League and the AU's Peace and Security Council are expected to call on the U.N. Security Council soon to block any ICC moves in the interests of bringing peace to Darfur.
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