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ICC judges dismiss petition by pro-Sudan groups on Bashir case.

February 14, 2009 (THE HAGUE) -- The judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC) rejected a motion by pro-Sudan groups to consider their filing demanding that an arrest warrant not be issued for president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir.

Sir Geoffrey Nice

The petition was submitted last month namely by the Sudan Workers Trade Unions Federation (SWTUF) and the Sudan International Defense Group (SIDG). SIDG is described as a "non-governmental committee of Sudanese citizens established out of concern for the negative effects that ICC arrest warrants could have at this time for the peace process in Sudan and for the ordinary people of this country". Two UK lawyers prepared the filing on behalf of the SWTUF and SIDG, Sir Geoffrey Nice, former senior trial attorney at the Yugoslavian War Crimes Tribunal at the Hague, and Rodney Dixon. The filing focuses on the impact of an arrest warrant on the prospects of peace in Sudan, emphasizing that prosecuting Al-Bashir is not in the interest of justice and that other alternatives of transitional justice are being pursued. But the Pre-Trial Chamber I which is handling the Darfur case ruled that the interests of justice is an assessment made by the office of the prosecutor once an investigation is initiated in accordance with the Rome Statute. The judges further said that "the Chamber neither has the power to review, nor is it responsible for, the Prosecution's assessment that, under the current circumstances in Sudan, the initiation of a case against Omar Al Bashir and three alleged commanders of organized armed groups would not be detrimental to the interests of justice" "The Chamber concludes that the matters to which the Application refers are unrelated to any issue currently before the ChamberC*For these reasons decides not to grant leave to the Applicants pursuant to rule 103 of the Rules; and consequently not to take into consideration the observations included in the Application, and to reject the Applicants' request for a hearing" according to the decision posted on the ICC website. The two groups submitted an appeal to the Judges' decision saying that the chamber failed to consider the arguments put forward by them in their application. They requested that the Pre-Trial Chamber I authorize them to challenge the ruling before the Appeal chamber at the ICC. They warned that overlooking the facts contained in their application "can instantly transform the leader so charged into an international outcast, the leader of a pyriah State, with the crippling political and economic isolation that may result". Khartoum has denied any links to the two groups but expressed gratitude to its work. However a number of SIDG secretariat members have met with Sudanese officials who vowed to support them. The ICC judges are expected to release a decision before the end of the month in which they agree to issue an arrest warrant for Al-Bashir on an unspecified number of counts. Last July the ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo requested that the judges issue an arrest warrant for Bashir on three counts of genocide, five of crimes against humanity and two of murder. Ocampo accused Al-Bashir of masterminding a campaign to get rid of the African tribes in Darfur; Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa. The Secretary General of SIDG Mohamed Al-Ansari told Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) last month that the ICC Judges cannot issue an arrest warrant unless they respond to their filing. Sudan has refused to accept jurisdiction of the ICC but said that it may deal with the court through a third party. Last November multiple sources told Sudan Tribune that the Sudanese government hired Eversheds LLP to handle the ICC row. (ST)

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Publication:Sudan Tribune (Sudan)
Geographic Code:6SUDA
Date:Feb 17, 2009
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