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EU presses Chad to arrest Bashir on genocide charges

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-07-23

The EU has urged Chad to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir Thursday, after he ignored a genocide warrant on a visit to the country. The International Criminal Court has issued two warrants against Bashir for crimes committed in west Darfur.

AFP - An international row raged on Thursday over the presence of genocide accused President Omar al-Beshir of Sudan as he took his place among African leaders at a regional summit here.

In Brussels, EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton urged Chad to arrest Beshir and hand him over to the International Criminal Court to face genocide and war crimes charges.

Ashton "urges Chad to respect its obligations under international law to arrest and surrender those indicted by the ICC," her office said.

She reminded Chad it was a signatory of the Rome Statute, the founding document of the ICC, obliging it to arrest any person on its territory wanted by the court.

Beshir arrived in Ndjamena on Wednesday for a summit of the Community of Sahel-Saharan (CEN-SAD) states and joined Libyan leader Mouamar Kadhafi, Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno and 10 other African heads of state in a giant tent erected for the gathering.

The government of Chad has insisted it will not arrest the Sudanese leader, with whom it is engaged in a bid to repair deeply strained diplomatic ties after years of proxy warfare.

Chad is the first signatory to the Treaty of Rome to host Beshir, but the government aligned its position on that of the African Union, which decided not to cooperate with the first arrest mandate issued against the Sudanese leader in March 2009.

The second mandate for genocide in Darfur was issued this month.

Foreign Minister Ahmat Mahamat Bachir said Wednesday that Beshir had nothing to fear. "We don't depend on injunctions from international organisations," he said.

The Associations for the Defence of Human Rights (CADH), a collective of six organisations, demanded Ndjamena seize Beshir and urged Chadians "to oppose his stay by all legal means."

"Chad shows that it favours impunity in letting Beshir come to Ndjamena. We can't ratify conventions and then trample them underfoot," CADH member Maxime Naguilem told AFP.

Opposition politician Toko Manasse, president of the National Convention for Peace and Development in Chad, said that welcoming Beshir "Chad is suggesting to international opinion that it is complicit in what has happened in Darfur and in eastern Chad," where some attacks have been blamed on Sudanese militias.

Darfur has been gripped by a civil war since 2003 that has killed at least 300,000 people and left 2.7 million homeless according to the United Nations. Khartoum says 10,000 were killed.

ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said Thursday that Beshir will be brought to justice, in spite of Chad's stance. "It is just a matter of time, he will eventually have to travel to The Hague and face justice.

"There is no victory where genocide is concerned. 2.5 million victims in Darfur are under attack. President Beshir should not be proud. He remains a fugitive suspect," Moreno-Ocampo told AFP.

The CEN-SAD, which is headquartered in Tripoli, was established in 1998 on Kadhafi's initiative in 1998 and has seen its membership grow from six countries to 28.

Date created : 2010-07-22


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