On Monday, 14 July, Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo of the International Criminal Court (ICC) filed an application for an arrest warrant and submitted to the Judges of the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber evidence of crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Darfur by the Sudanese President, Omar Hassan al-Bashir (Read here the Application for warrant of arrest [PDF]).

The Prosecution contends that its evidence shows that al-Bashir masterminded and implemented a plan to destroy in substantial part three ethnic and historically influential groups in Darfur, namely the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa, on account of their ethnicity after they engaged in a rebellion in 2003 against the central government over its favoritism to Arabs over Africans. The alleged crimes stem from the brutal counterinsurgency campaign conducted by the Sudanese government.

The United Nations estimates that some 300.000 people have died in Darfur, and more than 2.5 million have been forced from their homes since 2003.

The Prosecutor maintains that because of his absolute control over the country al-Bashir bears ultimate criminal responsibility. Through the evidence submitted, the Prosecution seeks to demonstrate that al-Bashir mobilized the entire state apparatus, including the armed forces, the intelligence services, the diplomatic and public information bureaucracies, and the justice system, to subject the 2.45 million people living in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps, most of them members of the target groups, to conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction.

The Pre-Trial Chamber must now determine whether to issue an arrest warrant. Until now the Judges have approved all previous submissions made by Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo to the court. The warrant would make al-Bashir the first sitting head of state to be indicted by the ICC for genocide.

On the genocide charge against the Sudanese president, see also the recent blog by W. Schabas: Genocide Charges at the International Criminal Court?

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