This is the court’s first time ordering an arrest of a sitting head of state since the court was founded in 2002.
The arrest warrant for Omar al-Bashir, the President of Sudan listed seven charges; five of crimes against humanity – murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture and rape; two of war crimes – intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population or individual civilians, and pillaging. The charges on the warrant do not include genocide which had been requested by the prosecutor.
A spokesperson for the court has stated that Mr. Bashir is being accused of being personally responsible for “directing attacks against the civilian population” of Darfur and “murdering, raping, and forcibly displacing millions of civilians.”
Times Online reports:
“He is suspected of being criminally responsible…for intentionally directing attacks against an important part of the civilian population of Darfur, murdering, exterminating, raping, torturing and forcibly transferring large numbers of civilians and pillaging their property,” said Laurence Blairon, the court spokeswoman.
It is unlikely that President al-Bashir will turn himself into the ICC. Who will serve the warrant is still up in the air. Legally Sudan itself is obliged to arrest him, but that is not expected to happen in the near future. The Hague court has no police or military presence of it’s own. The United Nations peacekeepers that are stationed in Sudan also do not have a mandate to detain war crime suspects.
Were Bashir to travel to any of the 108 nations that are members of the ICC he would be arrested. There are 80 countries that are not court members including the United States.
There are more than 30 witnesses that will testify about the genocidal campaign in Sudan. It has been claimed that the leader controlled a genocidal campaign aimed at wiping out three ethnic African tribes in Darfur, the Western region of the vast nation south of Egypt.
If this action were to cause violence peacekeepers have been prepared to deal with it.
“I am sure there will be some crowd movements. There will be some violence,” said UN peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy.
Sky News reports that Omar Hassan al Bashir responded about his feelings about the court in the past:
Although there was no immediate response from Khartoum, Bashir said he would regard any warrant as worthless.
“Any decision by the International Criminal Court has no value for us. It will not be worth the ink it is written on,” he said.