The case against Bashir

Presenting evidence against President Omar el-Bashir on 14 July 2008, ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said Bashir had committed the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur.



Bashir denies all the charges, describing them as "not worth the ink they are written in".



Ocampo argued that he bore criminal responsibility in relation to 10 counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.



Bashir, he argued, masterminded and implemented a plan to destroy in substantial part the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawah groups, on account of their ethnicity. "His motives were largely political, his alibi was a ‘counter-insurgency’, his intent was genocide," Moreno-Ocampo said.



For more than five years, the prosecutor argued, armed forces and the militia/Janjaweed attacked and destroyed villages on Bashir's orders. Then they pursued survivors into the desert.



Millions of civilians were uprooted from land they had occupied for centuries, all their means of survival destroyed, their land inhabited by new settlers.



"In the camps, Bashir's forces kill the men and rape the women. He wants to end the history of the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawah people," Moreno-Ocampo argued.



"Bashir organised the destitution, insecurity and harassment of the survivors," according to Moreno-Ocampo. "He did not need bullets. He used other weapons: rapes, hunger, and fear. As efficient, but silent."



Sudanese foreign ministry spokesman Ali Al Sadiq said Sudan was not a signatory to the Rome Charter and would not heed the ICC.



Some analysts said the ICC had the authority to indict and have Bashir arrested and tried on the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 15 93 of 31 March 2005, which referred issues relating to the Darfur situation to the ICC.



The ICC, they argue, has jurisdiction over Darfur crimes by virtue of the Rome Statute, which includes genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes of aggression, as crimes that can be tried by the ICC.



Announcing their decision on 4 March, the pre-trial chamber excluded the charge of genocide, but announced seven counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes.




Photo: ICC

Five of these are for crimes against humanity and include murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture, and rape, while the other two are for war crimes, ICC spokeswoman Laurence Blairon, said.



"In order to speak about genocide, you need to have a clear intent that a person wishes to destroy, in part or as a whole, a targeted group, a specific group," Blairon said.



"In this specific case, the Pre-Trial Chamber 1 has not been able to find that there were reasonable grounds to establish the genocidal intent."



The court held Bashir criminally responsible for "intentionally directing attacks against an important part of the civilian population of Darfur, Sudan, murdering, exterminating, raping, torturing and forcibly transferring large numbers of civilians and pillaging their property".



The official capacity of head of state did not exclude criminal responsibility or get Bashir immunity, Blairon told a news conference at The Hague.



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See:

Aid workers, peacekeepers watchful as president charged

Southerners prefer diplomatic route

The conflict in Darfur