"Desperate" Al-Bashir cannot escape ICC: prosecutor

CAPE TOWN – Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir will eventually face justice, even if it takes six years to arrest him, the prosecutor who indicted him for war crimes said in Cape Town Friday.

Speaking on South African radio on the last day of the World Economic Forum on Africa, International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo vowed: "Bashir will face justice," even if it took, "two months, two years … even six years."

The ICC in March issued an arrest warrant for al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Western Sudanese province of Darfur, where hundreds of thousands of people have died since 2003 in an ethnic-based conflict.

Al-Bashir has denied the charges. The African Union and the Arab League had asked that the ICC hold off on indicting him, arguing that the ICC action threatened peace efforts in Sudan.

South Africa, the continent’s biggest power, took the same line. Former South African president Thabo Mbeki has been mandated by the AU to intercede with the UN on al
-Bashir’s behalf.

Since the warrant was issued, al-Bashir has travelled to several countries in the Middle East and Africa that are not signatories to the Rome Statute that founded the ICC and not obliged, therefore, to implement the warrant.

Last weekend, he attended a trade meeting of eastern and southern African leaders in Zimbabwe.

By doing so, Ocampo said the Sudanese leader was merely "showing his desperation."

"He is indicted," the prosecutor said. "The government of Sudan has the duty, the legal obligation to arrest him," he said.

A handful of African heads of state, including South African President Jacob Zuma, are attending the three-day Cape Town meeting.

On a recent visit to the continent, the president of the ICC Sang-Hyun Song urged African countries to enact their own legislation on war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide to to reduce the need for trials at the Hague-based court.