The prosecutor of the newly-established International Criminal Court (ICC) today accused Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir of genocide and war crimes arising out of the war in Darfur.
In a case which puts into sharp focus the sometimes competing demands of international humanitarian law and the political compromises into which states enter to secure peace, the ICC's prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo. presented evidence to the court at its seat in The Hague.
An ICC press release said Moreno-Ocampo had decided after a three-year investigation that "there are reasonable grounds to believe that... [al-Bashir] bears criminal responsibility in relation to 10 counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes."
He charged that al-Bashir "masterminded and implemented a plan to destroy in substantial part the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa groups, on account of their ethnicity." When the groups, which were resisting the marginalization of Darfur, rebelled and the government failed to defeat them, the Sudanese president "went after the people."
The ICC quoted Moreno-Ocampo as saying of al-Bashir: "His motives were largely political. His alibi was a 'counterinsurgency.' His intent was genocide."
The prosecution said the Sudanese armed forces and the Janjaweed militia were acting on al-Bashir's orders in their five-year-long campaign of attacking and destroying villages.
Moreno-Ocampo added: "By preventing the truth about the crimes from being revealed; concealing his crimes under the guise of a 'counterinsurgency strategy', or 'inter tribal clashes', or the 'actions of lawless autonomous militia', al-Bashir made possible the commission of further crimes. He promoted and provided impunity to his subordinates in order to secure their willingness to commit genocide."
The prosecutor has asked a pre-trial chamber of the ICC to issue an arrest warrant for al-Bashir.