UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A group of senior Sudanese officials indicted by the International Criminal Court, including the president, continue to commit genocide in western Sudan, the court’s prosecutor said on Thursday.
The ICC has issued arrest warrants against President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for genocide as well as former Interior Minister Ahmed Haroun and Janjaweed militia leader Ali Kushayb for war crimes in the Darfur region of western Sudan.
ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo recently asked the court’s judges to issue a warrant for Defense Minister Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein in connection with Darfur.
Speaking to the 15-nation U.N. Security Council, Moreno-Ocampo said it was essential that the indicted men be arrested as they are still committing grave crimes in Darfur.
“The execution of the arrest warrants will end the crimes in Darfur,” Moreno-Ocampo said. “The individuals sought by the court are still allegedly committing genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur.”
“The world knows where the fugitives of the court are,” he said. “They are in official positions, controlling the government of the Sudan, commanding military operations in different parts of the Sudan.”
He also reported to the council that ICC member Malawi failed to live up to its statutory obligations by failing to arrest Bashir when he visited the country.
Kenya also failed to arrest Bashir when he visited it last year, but a Nairobi court ruled recently that the government must arrest Bashir if he visits the country again.
Sudan’s U.N. Ambassador Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman sharply criticized Moreno-Ocampo for his approach to Darfur, saying his recent request for an indictment of the defense minister raised serious legal questions. He also accused the prosecutor of being biased against the government of Sudan.
“Why did he wait for five years or more to come with this accusation?” Osman told reporters after addressing the Security Council. He added that Hussein did “a great job, a very patriotic job” dealing with insurgents in the country.
He said Moreno-Ocampo’s aim was “to prevent the peaceful efforts of the government to establish peace and security.”
The prosecutor said Khartoum continued to refuse to cooperate with his investigation. Sudan is not a party to the ICC and does not recognize its authority. But the Security Council referred the case of Darfur to the council in 2006, making Sudan’s cooperation with the ICC mandatory.
U.N. officials say as many as 300,000 people have died and over 2.7 million been driven from their homes in eight years of ethnic and politically motivated violence in Darfur, a remote region of Western Sudan. Khartoum says 10,000 have died.
Separately, the Security Council agreed unanimously to expand the mandate of the 4,000-strong Ethiopian force in Abyei, known as UNISFA, to help Sudan and South Sudan monitor their volatile border region Abyei.
The border area has become increasingly tense since South Sudan seceded in July. Khartoum and Juba have refused to withdraw their troops from the area in keeping with a June agreement signed in Addis Ababa.
Sudan’s army took Abyei in May in a show of force that triggered an exodus of more than 100,000 civilians after the southern army attacked a northern army convoy.
South Sudan seceded after a January referendum called for under a 2005 peace deal that ended a decades-long civil war which saw more than 2 million people killed. Such a vote was originally also planned in Abyei but was never held as both sides have been unable to agree on who can participate.