/ 12 February 2009

‘No arrest warrant for Sudan’s al-Bashir’

The International Criminal Court (ICC) said on Thursday it has not issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for war crimes in Darfur.

”At this moment, there is no arrest warrant,” spokesperson Laurence Blairon told AFP after the New York Times reported that judges had decided to issue a warrant as requested last July by chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo.

”When we have something to announce, we will announce it. For now, there is nothing to announce.”

The newspaper reported on Wednesday that ICC judges had decided to issue an arrest warrant for al-Bashir.

Quoting court lawyers and diplomats, the Times said precise charges cited by the judges against al-Bashir had not been disclosed, but a formal announcement was expected by the court in the coming days.

It quoted UN officials as saying the decision on the warrant was communicated to UN chief Ban Ki-moon, though this was denied by a UN spokesperson.

Moreno-Ocampo had asked the court for an arrest warrant for al-Bashir on 10 counts, three of them for genocide.

The prosecutor accuses al-Bashir of having ”personally instructed” his forces to annihilate three ethnic groups in Sudan’s war-torn western Darfur region.

The president had ordered his forces ”not to bring back any wounded or prisoners”, the prosecutor has said. ”He wanted to commit genocide”.

If the warrant is approved, this will be the first time the ICC has sought the detention of a sitting head of state since it opened its doors in 2002. — AFP