Home | News    Wednesday 4 March 2009

Sudanese president risks apprehension following arrest warrant: Lawyer

March 3, 2009 (PARIS) — The Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir risks being apprehended even if he travels to countries that are not party to the International Criminal Court (ICC), a French lawyer said today.

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Hadi Shalluf

“Countries that have prisoner exchange treaty with other ICC member states can arrest Bashir when he arrives on their territory” Counsel Hadi Shalluf told Sudan Tribune today.

Tomorrow the ICC judges will issue their decision on the application submitted last July by prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo in which he requested the issuance of an arrest warrant for Bashir on three counts of genocide, five of crimes against humanity and two of murder.

Shalluf said it is “almost certain” that the judges will approve Ocampo’s request an arrest warrant.

“All it takes is one war crimes count to get an arrest warrant issued even if they [judges] scrap all other charges” he said.

The Libyan born lawyer said that the procedures require that the ICC Registrar transmit the arrest warrant to the UN Security Council (UNSC), UN Secretary General, International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and countries that have ratified the Rome Statute.

He further added that many countries will be forced to degrade contacts with the embattled president particularly the European Union (EU).

Last year the French envoy at the United Nations (UN) Jean-Maurice Ripert emphasized that EU rules prohibit dealings with indicted individuals.

“The EU [European Union] rules are very clear. We have no dialogue and no cooperation with anyone indicted by the ICC; this is very clear” Ripert told reporters today at the UN headquarters.

Shalluf also expressed doubts that Arab or African countries will stand in the way of arresting the Sudanese head of state despite their criticisms of the ICC move against Bashir.

“All these meetings by Arab or African organization in which they pledge support to Bashir is nothing but cheap political propaganda. None of these countries have any interest in defying international conventions or the world community” he said.

He also dismissed statements made by Libya’s state minister for African affairs Abdul Salam Al-Tereyki in which he disclosed that 37 African nations plan to withdraw from the court if Bashir is indicted.

“Of course any ICC member can decide to withdraw from the court but I doubt that this will take place. Many African nations have interests and employees working there. I don’t see what they can achieve by departing” Shalluf said.

The registered advocate at the ICC hailed Bashir’s indictment saying it sends a string message to leaders around the world “who continue to abuse human rights with impunity”.

“This is a great day for people in the Arab and African world. This is unique legal precedent. It will worry all these dictators” Shalluf said.

He also criticized Khartoum saying it has dealt “stupidly” with the ICC issue.

“They thought that hands of international justice will not reach them. I have defended the position of Sudan at the ICC and challenged the court’s jurisdiction. But I am a lawyer and Bashir needs to stand before the judges to prove his innocence” Shalluf stressed.

“They wasted a golden opportunity all this time. They could have worked with the African Union and Arab League to establish a special Darfur tribunal. However they [Sudan president] kept chasing illusions and were deceived by delegations who promised to put an end to this crisis. It was all a lie and now they are left with no options” he said.

Shalluf was appointed by its ICC Judges in August 2006 to represent and protect the general interests of the defense in the Darfur case during the proceedings on the preservation of evidence and protection of witnesses.

Shalluf filed a series of motions to challenge the jurisdiction of the Court and the admissibility of the Darfur case at the ICC that were eventually rejected by the judges.