[JURIST] The International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] on Wednesday issued [decision, PDF; video, MP4 download] an arrest warrant [text, PDF; ICC press release] for Sudanese head of state Omar al-Bashir [ICC materials, PDF; JURIST news archive], charging him with seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, but declining to charge him with genocide. The controversial arrest warrant [JURIST news archive] had been sought by ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile], who in July filed preliminary charges [text, PDF; JURIST report] against al-Bashir alleging genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes committed in the Darfur region in violation of Articles 6, 7, and 8 of the Rome Statute [text]. This is the first time the ICC has issued an arrest warrant against a sitting head of state.
The ICC announced last week [JURIST report] that they would decide whether to issue an arrest warrant on Wednesday. The announcement came after the New York Times reported [NYT report] last month that the warrant had been issued, leading a court official quickly to issue a denial [JURIST report]. In an effort to promote Darfur peace talks, Egypt called on the ICC last week to postpone its decision [JURIST report] on the arrest warrant. Sudan and the African Union [JURIST reports] have also called for the proceedings against al-Bashir to be delayed. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has previously urged al-Bashir to comply [JURIST report] with any ICC decision, but al-Bashir has said that that he and his government will disregard [Al Jazeera report] the ICC's ruling. Al-Bashir is accused of systematically targeting and purging the Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa, three Arabic-speaking ethnic groups, under the pretext of counterinsurgency since 2003.