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ICC prosecutor expects genocide charge against al-Bashir

[JURIST] Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] said [Reuters report] Thursday that he believes the ICC's appeals chamber will add a genocide charge to the case against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. The chamber will rule [press release] next Wednesday on an appeal challenging the ICC's decision not to include a count of genocide in its March arrest warrant [JURIST reports] for al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur [JURIST news archive]. The court found insufficient evidence to support the additional charge at the time, though Moreno-Ocampo argued that the evidentiary standards imposed by the pre-trial chamber in advance of the March indictment were an improper interpretation of Article 58 of the Rome Statute [texts]. Al-Bashir has denied all accusations, and will seek re-election in April.

The warrant was met with mixed reactions, with some believing that its enforcement would jeopardize peacekeeping efforts [JURIST report] in Sudan. The African Union [official website] reversed its initial opposition to the warrant, later recommending cooperation [JURIST report] on the principle that those sought by international courts should be required to face the charges against them. Al-Bashir scoffed [JURIST report] at the warrant upon its issuance, saying that it represents an effort by Western countries to reassert colonial power over Sudan, and criticized the ICC for failing to take action in conflicts in Iraq and the Gaza Strip. He is accused of leading the systematic harassment and murder of members of the Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa ethnic groups under the pretext of counter-insurgency since 2003.

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