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ICC prosecutor expects Bashir genocide charge
January 28, 2010 / 5:36 PM / in 8 years

ICC prosecutor expects Bashir genocide charge

<p>Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir attends the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Sharm el-Sheikh July 15, 2009. REUTERS/Chris Bouroncle/Pool</p>

DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said Thursday he expects judges to add a charge of genocide within weeks against Sudan’s “fugitive” President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Bashir last March on seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan’s Darfur conflict, including murder, rape and torture, but ruled it had insufficient grounds for a charge of genocide.

Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, who appealed the ruling, said the continued plight of 2.5 million people in Darfur camps justified the label of genocide.

“The people in the camps are still suffering what I consider genocide,” he told Reuters in an interview. “And in a few weeks the appeal chairman will rule on my request to include genocide charges. I think I will win.”

The United Nations says as many as 300,000 people have been killed since conflict erupted in Darfur in 2003, although Sudan rejects that figure.

Moreno-Ocampo said conditions in the camps amounted to a “slow death” which the world had lost interest in.

Bashir, who is seeking re-election in April, has denied responsibility for wide-scale killing in Darfur and said the arrest warrant against him was part of a plot against Sudan.

Although Bashir has brushed off the charges and remained in office, Moreno-Ocampo said his authority was diminished.

“President Bashir is indicted. He is a fugitive president,” he said, citing what he said were refusals by South Africa, Uganda, Nigeria, Turkey and Venezuela to host the Sudanese leader since the warrant was issued.

“It’s a process of marginalization.... Bashir’s destiny is to face justice -- in two years or 20 years.”

COLLECTING EVIDENCE

Moreno-Ocampo said he was gathering evidence into post-election violence in Kenya two years ago, and said he expected charges to be issued this year.

Kenyan authorities said 1,220 people were killed in the ethnic clashes following the December 2007 presidential elections, and 350,000 people were forcibly displaced.

“I‘m collecting information. I will move fast. We have to define this year who will be going to justice,” he said.

The process could lead to cabinet ministers from Kenya facing The Hague court, although Moreno-Ocampo did not identify individuals who could be named by the court.

“It’s very important that we understand the economic impact of these crimes -- the violence in Kenya was destroying the economy,” Moreno-Ocampo said. “It was not just Kenya, (it affected) Tanzania, Uganda, all the region.”

Editing by Jon Boyle

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