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Qatar, Arab League reject ICC cooperation request on Bashir arrest: report

March 16, 2009 (KHARTOUM) — The Arab League and Qatar have both rejected a request from the International Criminal Court (ICC) to execute an arrest warrant against Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir, Sudan official news agency (SUNA) reported.

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Arab League Secretary-General, Amr Moussa (AP)

On March 4th the judges of the Pre-Trial Chamber I at the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Bashir on seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, which include murder, rape and torture.

SUNA quoted the Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa from the Syrian capital as saying that his organization as well as Qatar received the cooperation request but turned it down.

According to the agency the ICC wanted Bashir apprehended during the Arab summit to be held in Doha later this month.

“We in the presidency of the Arab League have a clear position on this request and we totally reject it” Moussa was cited as saying.

It is not clear when the Arab League and Qatar received the request. The registry at the Hague based court announced that it has transmitted the arrest warrant to Sudan, the permanent members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) and the 108 ICC members.

Furthermore it is not normal for the ICC to request cooperation from regional organization on apprehension requests.

The ICC warrants against Ahmed Haroun, Sudanese state minister for humanitarian affairs and against militia commander Ali Mohamed Ali Abdel Rahman, also know as Ali Kushayb issued in April 2007 were sent to Egypt, Libya, Eritrea and Ethiopia.

Sudan announced that Bashir will attend the Arab summit to be held later this month in the Arab Gulf state of Qatar despite the arrest warrant.

Qatar said it is simply hosting the Arab summit and that it is not a meeting initiated by its government.

“The summit is an Arab meeting, it is not for Qatar or Sudan….Sudan will be invited, and it’s up to the Sudanese government weather to attend or not” the Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jasim Al-Thani told reporters last week.

Qatar is not a member of the ICC’s Rome Statute and is therefore under no legal obligation to arrest Bashir.

However court officials said they could transmit a request to Qatar for executing the arrest warrant in light of UN Security Council (UNSC) 1593 under chapter VII in March 2005 referring the situation in Darfur to the ICC.

Sudan announced it is making special security arrangements for the travel of Bashir to Doha which includes fighter jets guarding the presidential plane.

Some Arab and Sudanese columnist have urged Bashir to skip the Arab summit to avoid embarrassing the host country.

(ST)