| KHARTOUM, Sept 22
KHARTOUM, Sept 22 Sudanese President Omar Hassan
al-Bashir, wanted by the International Criminal Court on
genocide charges, said on Sunday he planned to attend this
week's U.N. General Assembly and had already booked a hotel in
Washington has led calls for Bashir to face international
justice over bloodshed in the now decade-old conflict in Sudan's
Darfur region, and a senior State Department official said last
week that Bashir would "not receive a warm welcome" if he
traveled to New York.
At a news conference, Bashir did not say whether the United
States had granted him a visa yet, but did say he had made
preparations to fly to New York via Morocco.
"We booked the flight route via Morocco ... we booked a
hotel," he said, adding that it was his right to attend the U.N.
Bashir said he was not worried that U.S. authorities would
arrest him, as demanded by human rights groups, because
Washington is not a member of the ICC.
"Nobody in the U.S. can question me or hold me," he said.
The ICC issued arrest warrants for Bashir in 2009 and 2010
on charges of orchestrating war crimes and genocide, requiring
member countries to detain him if he entered their territories.
Since then, he has limited his travel mostly to African
neighbours and Arab allies.
The United States is not a member of the Hague-based ICC, so
would not be legally bound to hand the president over, but it
has transferred ICC suspects to the court before.
When Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda turned himself in to
the U.S. Embassy in the Rwandan capital of Kigali in March, he
was put on a plane to The Hague within days.
Mainly non-Arab tribes took up arms in Darfur in 2003
against Bashir's Arab-dominated government, complaining of
neglect and discrimination. The conflict has killed more than
200,000 people and displaced about 2 million, according to human
rights groups and U.N. officials.
Sudan dismisses the ICC charges, says reports of mass
killings in Darfur have been exaggerated, and refuses to
recognise the court, which it says is part of a Western plot.
African hostility to the ICC has been growing due to a
perception that prosecutors disproportionately target African
leaders - a charge the ICC denies.
(Reporting by Ulf Laessing and Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by
Kevin Liffey and Ulf Laessing; Editing by Eric Beech)