- genocide - ICC - Omar al-Bashir - Sudan
REUTERS - The International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said on Tuesday he had lodged an appeal to have Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir charged with genocide in the Darfur conflict.
The ICC has indicted Bashir on seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, rape and torture, but ruled it had insufficient grounds for a charge of genocide.
"So I appealed. The appeal chamber will have to decide now. It will take a few months," Moreno-Ocampo said in Ethiopia, where he was meeting African Union (AU) oficials.
"Today, President Bashir has to be arrested for five counts ... If we win this appeal in some months, President Bashir will also have to answer the charges of genocide."
Bashir has dismissed the allegations made by the ICC, the world's first permanent court for prosecuting war crimes, as part of a Western conspiracy.
The ICC warrant was the first issued against a sitting head of state by the Hague-based court. U.N. officials say the Darfur conflict has killed as many as 300,000 people since 2003.
CONTROVERSY IN AFRICA
Moreno-Ocampo said an AU motion last week saying African nations would not cooperate with the ICC's order to arrest or surrender Bashir was not a setback.
"They asked the U.N. Security Council to do something and the Security Council did not answer them," he said of the AU's request for the indictment to be deferred.
"They are not saying President Bashir is innocent. It's not against me. It's a discussion between political organisations ... The AU made a political statement. The decision to implement the warrant is an individual decision of each state."
Sudan says the AU vote means its president is free to travel across Africa, even though 30 states in Africa signed up the global court. Under its statute, member countries are required to arrest suspects within their territories.
Bashir has only visited states not bound by the court's rules since the warrant was issued in March.
Moreno-Ocampo said he was convinced Bashir would face justice eventually. "The court can wait for the arrest of President Bashir. It can wait six months or six years even. The victims cannot wait."
Washington also accuses Bashir of committing genocide during the conflict in Darfur, that surged in 2003 when mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms against the Sudan government, accusing it of neglecting the western region.
Earlier on Tuesday, Botswana condemned the AU resolution, saying it was not properly discussed at the July summit chaired by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
"The chair did not permit much debate on this matter and therefore we did not get an opportunity to put our opinion across," Botswana's vice president, Mompati Merafhe, said in a speech posted on the presidency website.
"It is our view that Africa should not try to undermine the work of the ICC simply because one head of state called Bashir has been indicted by the Court."