The International Criminal Court (ICC) yesterday charged Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir with three counts of genocide in Darfur – a move that piled further diplomatic pressure on his isolated regime and marked the first time the tribunal had issued genocide charges.
An arrest warrant for Mr Bashir said there were "reasonable grounds to believe" that since April 2003 Sudanese forces attempted genocide against Darfur tribal groups Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa. Last year, judges at the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal issued a warrant against the president for crimes against humanity, but refused to indict the Sudanese leader on genocide charges as sought by prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo. That ruling was successfully appealed and prosecutors then filed their case again.
Yesterday judges charged Mr Bashir with three counts of genocide: by killing, by causing mental and physical harm, and "by deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about physical destruction".
The ICC prosecutor accuses the Sudanese president of keeping 2.5 million refugees from specific ethnic groups in Darfur in camps "under genocide conditions, like a gigantic Auschwitz". Mr Bashir, re-elected to a new five-year term this year, refuses to recognise the court's authority. He says he will not turn himself in to stand trial.