International Court Adds Genocide to Charges Against Sudan Leader

Publié le par The New York Times - Marlise Simons

The New York Times published 12/07/2010 by Marlise Simons

Paris - The International Criminal Court in The Hague said Monday that it had issued a second arrest warrant for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan, this time for three counts of genocide.

El-Béchir Omar HassanThe arrest order will be added to the warrant issued in March 2009, in which the court said he should stand trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

All of the charges against Mr. Bashir are linked to the conflict in the western Darfur region of Sudan, where an estimated 300,000 people have died and more than two million have been uprooted by almost a decade of fighting between the government and rebels.

Even genocide — the gravest charge — may not bring the Sudanese leader closer to trial in The Hague any time soon. He has so far defied the court’s orders and denied all accusations. But because genocide charges carry a heavy weight, they may further complicate his international dealings and travels.

Mr. Bashir is already shunned by numerous leaders from countries who recognize the court’s jurisdiction — 111 countries adhere to it — and while the leaders of many Arab and some African countries continue to meet with him, others have warded off visits by warning that as court members they are legally bound to arrest him. As a result, Mr. Bashir has avoided a number of conferences and celebrations in Africa, Europe and the United States in the last two years.

It was not clear when the arrest warrant was served. The court disclosed the decision on Monday afternoon by posting it on the court’s Web site. The order said there were reasonable grounds to believe that security forces and militia under Mr. Bashir’s command had attacked the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups of Darfur in ways that “were calculated to bring about the physical destruction of part of those ethnic groups.” It cited torture, rape, the poisoning of water, expulsions and killings as part of what it called “the genocidal policy.”

The judges’ new arrest warrant came as a vindication for the prosecution, which has spent more than a year seeking genocide charges against Mr. Bashir. Judges in the court, the first permanent international criminal court, which opened its doors in 2002, must endorse the prosecution’s accusations. It is the judges who then call for an arrest, an extra step in the rules to safeguard against a possible rogue prosecutor.

Last year, the judges turned down the prosecution’s request to charge the president with genocide, saying that the evidence presented was insufficient. But an appeals chamber called this “an error of law,” because the judges had sought far higher standards of proof than were required to order an arrest, and it asked them re-examine the application.

In the arrest warrant issued Monday, the judges said there were “reasonable grounds” for three counts of genocide: genocide by killing, genocide by causing serious bodily or mental harm and genocide by deliberately inflicting conditions calculated to destroy the ethnic groups. “Towns and villages inhabited by other tribes, as well as rebel locations, were bypassed,” the order said, adding that towns and villages of the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa were singled out for attack.

The prosecutor, Louis Moreno-Ocampo, was attending meetings in Paris and could not be reached for comment.

The well-documented and brutal attacks on civilians in Darfur, including against aid workers assisting them, have caused much international indignation. But at home, Mr. Bashir was easily re-elected president in April, although the voting was marred by boycotts and reports of intimidation and widespread fraud.

Publié dans Articles de Presse

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