[JURIST] International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website; JURIST news archive] chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] will seek a warrant to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir [BBC profile], according to statements [press briefing; video] made Friday by US State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack. Moreno-Ocampo is expected to present evidence [ICC media advisory] of human rights crimes allegedly committed in the Sudanese region of Darfur [JURIST news archive]. Sudanese Foreign Affairs Minister Al-Samani al-Wasila counseled against the indictment, asserting that it would destroy the country's peace process. Sudanese Ambassador to the UN Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamed told reporters [AP report] that
If you indict our head of state, the symbol of our country, the symbol of our dignity, then the sky's the limit for our reactions ... It will have far-reaching, bad implications for the entire country.In his comments, McCormack warned the Sudanese government not to respond with violence, reminding the country of its obligations under UN Security Council resolutions [JURIST report] as well as the Vienna Convention [text]. AFP has more. BBC News has additional coverage.
An indictment would mark the first-ever ICC effort to charge a sitting head of state with crimes against humanity and genocide. The Sudanese government has already rejected the ICC's jurisdiction and refuses to surrender two previously-named war crimes suspects [JURIST report]. Hundreds of thousands of people have allegedly been killed in Darfur by Sudanese military and janjaweed [Slate backgrounder] milita forces. An ongoing probe said to involve more than 100 witnesses in 18 countries led Moreno-Ocampo to state before the UN Security Council [official website] in June that evidence shows that the commission of such crimes on such a scale, over a period of five years, and throughout Darfur, has required the sustained mobilization of the entire Sudanese state apparatus.