Bashir’s ICC indictment: Moreno-Ocampo meets AU official in Addis Ababa

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Following the decision of the jury at the International Criminal Court (ICC) not to indict Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir for masterminding genocide in the Darfur region, prosecutors have appealed the tribunal’s decision saying there is sufficient evidence to prove his guilt.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) charged Sudanese President al-Bashir with war crimes and crimes against humanity in March, 2009 for allegedly orchestrating a campaign of murder, torture, rape and forced expulsions in the Darfur province of Sudan, but judges said there was insufficient evidence to charge him with genocide.

The announcement comes a week after an ICC ruling permitting prosecutors to appeal the decision not to issue genocide charges against al-Bashir.

However, Sudan’s sitting president defiantly refuses to recognise the court’s jurisdiction and African Union (AU) leaders said on Friday they would not arrest or extradite him.

Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo rejected the stance on Tuesday after meeting with AU officials here in Addis Ababa for talks on Darfur. “The AU is not a signatory of the charter, but individual nations are,” said Moreno Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor of the ICC. He added that 30 African nations have signed the court’s founding document, which obliges them to cooperate with the court.

“African leaders may make political statements but individual nations’ laws take precedence,” Moreno Ocampo said. He added that he appealed the ICC’s decision not to charge Bashir with genocide because he believes the evidence is clear that the Sudanese leader mobilised his Government to exterminate three Darfuri ethnic groups.

The decision on the genocide charge was split. While the entire chamber accepted seven charges – five crimes against humanity and two war crimes – two of the judges refused the charges on genocide.

Moreno-Ocampo was in Addis Ababa for meetings with a high level African Union panel on Darfur led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki.
The meeting comes days after African heads of state meeting in Libya stated they would not cooperate in arresting Mr. Bashir, even though 30 AU members are also ICC members.

The chief prosecutor says the summit’s statement does not relieve African states who are parties to the ICC of their obligation to arrest Bashir if he sets foot on their soil. “He tried to go to South Africa and South Africa told him, if you come here, you will be arrested. He is not traveling around,” he said.

“Today, President Bashir has to be arrested for five counts. If we win this appeal in some months, President Bashir will also have to answer the charges of genocide,” the prosecutor said.

Earlier, on Tuesday, Botswana condemned the AU resolution, saying it was not properly discussed at the July summit chaired by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Al-Bashir is the first sitting head of state indicted by the world’s first permanent war crimes tribunal since it was established in 2002.

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