AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The International Criminal Court issued a second arrest warrant Monday for Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for the crime of genocide.
Bashir, who faces an ICC arrest warrant from March 2009 for war crimes and crimes against humanity, has dismissed the court’s claims that he is responsible for crimes in the Darfur region leading to the death of as many as 300,000 people and a campaign of “rape, hunger and fear” against a further 2.5 million in refugee camps.
“There are reasonable grounds to believe him responsible for three counts of genocide committed against the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups, that include: genocide by killing, genocide by causing serious bodily or mental harm and genocide by deliberately inflicting on each target group conditions of life calculated to bring about the group’s physical destruction,” ICC appeals judges said in a statement.
Bashir says the allegations made by the ICC, the world’s first permanent court for prosecuting war crimes, are part of a Western conspiracy. The ICC warrant was the first issued against a sitting head of state by the court.
When the court first issued the arrest warrant, it ruled there were insufficient grounds for a charge of genocide, but ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo had argued for reopening the case for genocide, which was granted in February.
The ICC has no police force and depends on national authorities and states that have signed up to the court to make arrests.
Bashir has visited several countries not bound by the court’s rules since the warrant was issued, but the charge of genocide could further restrict his movements and make it harder for him to rely on support from other countries, given the gravity of the charges.
Reporting by Reed Stevenson