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Sudan President May Face Genocide Charges

Wednesday, 03 Feb 2010 11:02 AM

THE HAGUE – Genocide charges could be added to the list facing Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir after a war crimes court Wednesday ordered a review of his arrest warrant for alleged atrocities in Darfur.

An appeals chamber of the International Criminal Court directed judges to rethink their decision to omit genocide from the warrant issued in March last year, saying they had made "an error in law".

"The standard of proof developed and applied ... was higher and more demanding than what is required," said presiding judge Erkki Kourula, upholding an appeal by prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo who repeated his accusation that Beshir had "genocidal intent".

"I believe the decision of President Beshir to expel humanitarian organisations (from Darfur following the issuing of the warrant) is confirming his genocidal intention," the prosecutor told AFP after Wednesday's ruling.

Thousands of people "were in the desert with no food and no water. When President Beshir ordered the expelling he basically is confirming that his intention is to physically destroy them."

Khartoum accused the ICC of trying to influence ongoing peace talks with Darfur rebels -- its decision coinciding with a brief visit by Beshir to Doha for talks related to the Darfur peace process.

"If you look to the time of this process, it shows that the ICC wants to stop the political development in Sudan," Kamal Obeid, state minister for information, told AFP.

The Justice and Equality Movement rebel group welcomed Wednesday's ruling as a victory for "the population of Darfur and justice", adding it remained committed to peace negotiations that other groups have boycotted.

The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Beshir in March last year on five counts of crimes against humanity and two of war crimes committed in Sudan's western Darfur region -- its first-ever warrant for a sitting head of state. ICC decision important for Darfur victims: prosecutor

Moreno-Ocampo, having implicated the Sudanese leader in the deaths of 35,000 people, subsequently lodged an appeal against the court's decision not to include the three counts of genocide he had asked for.

The prosecutor accuses Beshir of having "personally instructed" his forces to annihilate three ethnic groups -- the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa in Darfur.

The tools used by Beshir's forces, says the prosecutor, were killings, rape, the destruction of livelihoods and the forcible transfer of survivors to camps without food and water.

The United Nations says up to 300,000 people have died and 2.7 million have fled their homes since ethnic minority rebels in Darfur rose up against the Arab-dominated regime in Khartoum in February 2003.

Sudan's government says 10,000 have been killed.

The ICC ruling was welcomed by rights groups, with the Save Darfur Coalition warning that: "The US and the international community must immediately make it clear to Khartoum that no retaliation against civilians, humanitarian aid operations or peacekeepers in Darfur will be tolerated."

The court has no means of enforcing the warrant on its own, and relies on states to execute it. It cannot try Beshir in absentia.

Beshir has visited several countries, non-signatories to the ICC's founding Rome Statute, since the warrant was issued. Many African and Arab states along with Sudan's key ally China have called for the warrant to be suspended.

Moreno-Ocampo said he would seek to provide the court with more evidence on Beshir's "genocidal intention", adding a new decision on the warrant should follow "not before four months, I suppose no later than one year."

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.

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THE HAGUE – Genocide charges could be added to the list facing Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir after a war crimes court Wednesday ordered a review of his arrest warrant for alleged atrocities in Darfur.
genocide,bashir,court,president
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2010-02-03
Wednesday, 03 Feb 2010 11:02 AM
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