[dehai-news] NYTimes.com: Council Backs Idea to Indict Sudan Leader

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From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Fri Dec 05 2008 - 06:56:25 EST

Council Backs Idea to Indict Sudan Leader
Published: December 5, 2008
UNITED NATIONS - Members of the Security Council generally expressed support on Wednesday for the International Criminal Court's moving ahead with the possible indictment of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan for war crimes in Darfur, although several voiced reservations that it would slow attempts to reach a peace settlement.

The discussion came after testimony to the council by Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the court's prosecutor, who warned that members should prepare in advance to enforce the indictment. The three-judge panel in The Hague is expected to reach a decision on the case presented by Mr. Moreno-Ocampo in either January or February.

The strongest opposition to the possible indictment came from Libya and South Africa, which called for suspending the proceedings for at least a year, while Russia and China called the timing poor.

"Starting legal proceedings in a hurried manner while the conflict is still going on will make unavoidable interference in the relevant political processes," the Chinese ambassador, Zhang Yesui, told the council.

The United States, not a party to the court, voiced support. "The international community cannot ignore the atrocities and massive human suffering that have occurred during the ongoing conflict in Darfur," said Rosemary DiCarlo, an American envoy.

The Sudanese ambassador, Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem, said his country had improved its cooperation with the peacekeeping operations in Sudan, humanitarian groups and its estranged neighbor, Chad. "Are we to bring people back to square one by indicting the president who is the custodian of the whole peace process?" he said in an interview.

But the Darfuri Leaders Network, a coalition of academics and others in exile in the United States, said the government was just making "empty gestures" while the threat of the indictment loomed. The group said in a statement that the indictment presented the best chance for accountability for crimes in Darfur.

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