15 Jul 2008

Sudan President charged with genocide

11:09 am on 15 July 2008

The International Criminal Court has charged Sudan's president with masterminding a campaign of genocide in Darfur, killing 35,000 people and persecuting 2.5 million refugees.

ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo asked the court on Monday for an arrest warrant for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

Bashir is the first sitting head of state to be charged by an international court since Liberia's Charles Taylor and Yugoslavia's Slobodan Milosevic. The court was set up in 2002.

Thousands of demonstrators rallied in Khartoum against the ICC on Sunday.

Khartoum is not a party to the court and denies genocide in Darfur. The government said it would ignore the announcement.

In his first comments on the charges, President Bashir said on Monday the International Criminal Court had no jurisdiction in Sudan and added its charges were lies.

Mr Moreno-Ocampo said President Bashir masterminded a plan to destroy the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups in Darfur who launched a rebellion in 2003.

He charged Bashir with three counts of genocide, five of crimes against humanity, including murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture and rape, and two of war crimes.

International experts say at least 200,000 people have died in Darfur and 2.5 million have been displaced since 2003. Khartoum says 10,000 people have been killed.