[JURIST] Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] on Monday charged Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir [case materials; JURIST news archive] with three counts of genocide [warrant, PDF] in relation to the Darfur conflict [BBC backgrounder]. The chamber found that there were reasonable grounds to conclude that Bashir had committed genocide against the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups. The charges included “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.” The charges come after the Appeals Chamber reversed a prior decision [JURIST report] by the lower chamber denying the prosecutor’s request for genocide charges. The Appeals Chamber found that the standard of proof applied by the lower chamber had been too high, and that there only needed to be a showing of reasonable grounds of a genocidal specific intent, a showing that had been met when the first arrest warrant was issued. The warrant alleges that the Sudanese government, using the national armed forces, police and the Janjaweed militia [BBC backgrounder], targeted ethnic groups for extermination that were believed to be close to armed opposition groups in Darfur as part of a counter-insurgency strategy, and that as commander-in-chief of Sudanese forces, Bashir “played an essential role in [its] coordinati[on].” The genocide charges have been added to seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity that were filed against Bashir [JURIST report] in March 2009.
ICC prosecutors appealed the decision [JURIST report] not to charge al-Bashir with genocide in July 2009. Bashir has eluded arrest since the issuance of the first warrant. In March, the president of the ICC said that Bashir will eventually face justice [JURIST report] in The Hague and compared the Bashir warrant with the successful surrender of former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive] and former Liberian president Charles Taylor [case materials; JURIST news archive] to the international criminal tribunals. The warrant has been controversial, with Egypt, Sudan, the African Union and others calling for the proceedings against Bashir to be delayed, and African Union leaders agreeing [JURIST reports] not to cooperate with the warrant.