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International Criminal Court to Seek Arrest of Sudanese President

BY Admin  July 11, 2008 at 1:45 PM EDT

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir

The arrest warrant, which is expected to be issued Monday, would be first the tribunal has ever issued against a sitting head of state for such atrocities, the Washington Post reported.

Moreno-Ocampo said the ICC judges at The Hague will take “two to three months to decide” whether to move forward with the arrest, according to United Press International.

Up to 300,000 people have died in Darfur since fighting began in 2003, according to U.N. estimates. The Khartoum government has recently allowed in U.N. and African Union peacekeepers to help calm the violence, but the Sudanese government has been resistant to diplomatic efforts from the international community.

In June, Moreno-Ocampo said in a progress report to the U.N. Security Council that the Sudanese government’s infrastructure was designed “to plan, commit and cover up crimes” in Darfur, CNN reported. “For the last five years, the whole Darfur area has been a crime scene,” the prosecutor said in his report.

The ICC has already charged two Sudanese leaders — one government official and one military leader — with war crimes in Sudan.

A spokesman for al-Bashir downplayed the threat of arrest from the ICC, saying Sudan “doesn’t care” about the ICC and that it has “no authority,” the Associated Press reported.

“Mahjoub Fadul Badry called the ICC prosecutor a ‘terrorist’ whose investigation is based on biased testimony from rebel leaders,” according to the International Herald Tribune.”

Sudan’s U.N. Ambassador Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamad said the ICC prosecutor is “playing with fire,” according to UPI, and added that the United Nations should intervene or face “grave repercussions.”

Some at the United Nations also expressed concern that the arrest warrant could make peace negotiations in the region more difficult to achieve.

“Officials said Moreno-Ocampo’s action could trigger a military response by Sudanese forces or their proxies against the nearly 10,000 U.N. and African Union peacekeepers in Darfur,” UPI reported, adding that “at least seven peace keepers were killed and 22 injured Tuesday during an ambush.”

On Thursday, the five permanent members of the United Nations — China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States — met with the head of the U.N. peacekeeping mission to discuss “force protection” after Tuesday’s attack.