Wed, Jul 08, 2009 - Page 6 News List

Prosecutors appeal decision not to try Sudanese president

‘EVIDENTIARY BURDEN’: African leaders complain that International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo is too focused on their continent

AP , THE HAGUE

Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court have appealed the tribunal’s decision not to indict Sudan’s president on charges of waging genocide in Darfur, a document released yesterday said.

The court charged Omar al-Bashir with war crimes and crimes against humanity in March for allegedly orchestrating a campaign of murder, torture, rape and forced expulsions in Darfur Province. But judges said there was insufficient evidence to merit charging him with genocide.

A FIRST

Al-Bashir is the first sitting head of state indicted by the world’s first permanent war crimes tribunal since it was established in 2002.

But Sudan’s president defiantly refuses to recognize the court’s jurisdiction, and African Union leaders said on Friday they would not arrest or extradite him.

Since the court indicted him and issued an international arrest warrant, al-Bashir has traveled outside Sudan several times without being arrested. The international court has no police force and relies on other countries to execute arrest warrants.

The appeal filed Monday and released yesterday said the judges who rejected the three genocide charges were wrong in applying “an evidentiary burden that is inappropriate for this procedural stage.”

BURDEN OF PROOF

They argue that prosecutors need only prove that there are “reasonable grounds to believe” al-Bashir was responsible for genocide when asking for judges to file charges.

Instead, prosecutors said, the judges applied a “higher level of proof, one that can be identified only with the standard of proof ‘beyond a reasonable doubt.’”

Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo was in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa yesterday for talks on Darfur with African Union representatives.

FOCUS ON AFRICA?

African officials believe Moreno Ocampo focuses too sharply on their continent. His office has launched prosecutions in four countries — all of them in Africa.

His appeal accuses al-Bashir of mobilizing the entire Sudanese state apparatus with the aim of destroying a substantial part of the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups in Darfur over more than six years.

Fighting in Darfur since 2003 has left as many as 300,000 people dead and driven another 2.7 million from their homes, the UN says.

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