News24

ICC adds to Bashir's charges

2010-07-12 20:00

The Hague - The International Criminal Court added genocide on Monday to the list of charges against Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir, already wanted for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

"There are reasonable grounds to believe that (Omar al-Bashir) acted with specific intent to destroy in part the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups," said a new warrant issued on Monday, listing three genocide charges.

The court in March last year issued a warrant for Bashir's arrest on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, its first ever for a sitting head of state.

It did not include three genocide charges on that warrant as requested by prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, who appealed its decision.

In February, the ICC's appeals chamber ordered judges to rethink their decision to omit genocide from the warrant, saying they had made an "error in law" by setting the burden of proof too high.

In Monday's decision, the court said there were reasonable grounds to believe that villages and towns targeted by government forces "were selected on the basis of their ethnic composition".

"Towns and villages inhabited by other tribes, as well as rebel locations, were bypassed in order to attack towns and villages known to be inhabited by civilians belonging to the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups."

Destruction

The court also said there were reasonable grounds to believe that "acts of rape, torture and forcible displacement were committed against members of the targeted ethnic groups."

There was evidence that government forces contaminated the wells and water pumps of villages inhabited by these groups, who were also subject to forcible transfer, in furtherance of the genocidal policy."

"One of the reasonable conclusions that can be drawn is that... the conditions of life inflicted on the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa groups were calculated to bring about the physical destruction of a part of those ethnic groups."

Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo accuses Beshir of personally instructing his forces to annihilate the three Darfur ethnic groups.

The prosecutor says 2.7 million people have been uprooted from their homes, of whom 100 000 died of causes related to their displacement, such as starvation.

The United Nations says up to 300 000 people have died since conflict broke out in Darfur in 2003, when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated regime for a greater share of resources and power.