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Friday, 20 March 2009

ICC Issues Arrest Warrant for Al Bashir

Source :HuffingtonpostBuzz up!

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir attends a graduation ceremony at an air force academy near Khartoum, Sudan, Wednesday, March 4, 2009. Sudan denounced an international tribunal that issued an arrest warrant against its president Wednesday on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, calling it a “white man’s court” that aims to destabilize the country. (AP Photo/Abd Raouf)

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The president of Sudan became a wanted man Wednesday when the International Criminal Court charged him with war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur _ its first action against a sitting head of state and one that could set the stage for more world leaders to be indicted.

President Omar al-Bashir’s government retaliated by expelling 10 humanitarian groups from Darfur and seizing their assets, threatening lifesaving operations, a U.N. spokeswoman said.

Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the United States supported the court’s action “to hold accountable those who are responsible for the heinous crimes in Darfur.” Up to 300,000 people have died and 2.7 million have fled their homes in the region.

U.N. officials in Sudan will continue to deal with al-Bashir because he remains the president of the country, U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas said in New York.

In the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, the government denounced the warrant as part of a Western conspiracy aimed at destabilizing the vast oil-rich nation south of Egypt. “There will be no recognition of or dealing with the white man’s court, which has no mandate in Sudan or against any of its people,” the Information Ministry said.

Several thousand people waving pictures of al-Bashir and denouncing the court turned out in a rally in Khartoum. Some waved posters of chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo’s face with pig ears superimposed to chants of, “Cowardly pig, you will not get to the Sudan.”

Al-Bashir, who denies the accusations, drove through the capital after the warrant was announced, waving at crowds. Security was tightened at many embassies, and some diplomats and aid workers stayed home amid fears of retaliation against Westerners.

The decision by the court lays the groundwork for potential indictments of other heads of state who have been mentioned as possible targets of war crimes investigations, including leaders of other African nations and Israel

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