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Iraq denies receiving Interpol request for arresting Sudanese president at summit.

March 14, 2012 (KHARTOUM) -- The Iraqi foreign ministry on Wednesday vehemently denied reports that it received a request from the International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL) on its intention to arrest Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir if and when he attends the Arab League summit in Baghdad scheduled for the end of March. "The ministry emphasizes in this regard that this news is not accurate and [is] untrue, there was no further communication from Interpol [and] the protection of President al-Bashir is guaranteed one hundred percent like all guests of Iraq in the conference" said the statement by the Iraqi foreign ministry in reaction to yesterday's report. Yesterday the Kurdistan News Agency (AKnews) quoted an anonymous Iraqi foreign ministry official as saying that the Interpol "officially notified us about its intention to arrest Sudanese president Omer al-Bashir should he arrive in Baghdad to attend the Arab League meeting,". "According to Interpol and the agreements concluded with Iraq, it has the right to implement the arrest warrants issued by the international courts in Iraq," the official said. "If Bashir was arrested in Baghdad, then this [would] put Iraq in a great embarrassment in front of the Arab countries and [would] affect the Iraqi-Arab relations, and if Iraq didn't allow the Interpol to arrest him, then its international reputation [would] be affected," the source added. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued two warrants for Bashir, one dating from March 2009 on five counts of crimes against humanity and two counts of war crimes, and one issued in July 2010, on three counts of genocide. Iraq is not party to the Rome Statute of the Hague-based court and is therefore not legally obligated to apprehend Bashir. The 2005 United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution referring Darfur to the ICC made cooperation for non-state parties optional and not mandatory. "The ministry emphasizes that the publication of AKnews was not the first time that [it] published news and [quoted a false] source of [the] foreign affairs, a work not worthy of the press... we are surprised by the motives behind the publishing of the lies and fabrications," the diplomatic body in Baghdad said. "We warn the agency [AKnews] of the consequences of continuing in this way is far from the honest Secretariat of press releases and adoption of false news and fabricated to stir up confusion and skepticism, distortion of the efforts of the Iraqi government and the State Department in particular to complete the preparations for the Arab summit [to be] held successfully" the statement read. "We would like to emphasize again that the news and press releases are issued only by the minister or agents or the official departments of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and authorized exclusively by the Minister of Foreign Affairs". But the head of AKnews said his agency stands by the story. "The news agency has documented all of their sources, and is surprised by the Iraqi Foreign Ministry to use these terms to an Iraqi agency respected and well known in Iraq and the Middle East" according to remarks published on AKnews website. He pointed out that "the agency does not refer at times to... the names of the sources due to the sensitivity of the news" and this is a common practice in the media and is covered by domestic and international law. It is not clear why the Interpol would be involved in wanting to execute the warrant against the Sudanese president. The France-based body has not issued a Red Notice for the arrest of Bashir as it did with most ICC suspects at large. Court officials said in the past that Bashir's status as a sitting head of state does not necessitate raising awareness to his movements through an international warrant. The cooperation agreement between the ICC and Interpol enables the two sides to exchange police information and criminal analysis, and to cooperate in the search for fugitives and suspects. It also gives the ICC access to the Interpol telecommunications network and databases ICC has no police force and relies on state cooperation to enforce arrests. Since the warrant, Bashir traveled only to friendly nations and ICC member states that can guarantee his safety from arrest. Khartoum has made no decision on the level of the delegation it intends to send to the summit. In an interview with the Qatar-based Al-Raya newspaper published last Sunday, the Sudanese president described the situation in Iraq as "non-assuring" when asked about attending. "[T]he Iraqi government is [operating from] inside the Green Zone surrounded by concrete walls and this is neither a comfortable situation nor an ideal one" Bashir said. "We support peace in Iraq, we support unity in Iraq, we are worried about Iraq but we are not happy with the situation in Iraq. So far we have not made a decision to participate in the Arab summit. This will be decided by the pertinent [government] bodies in Sudan", the Sudanese president said. The United Nations says up to 300,000 people have died since conflict broke out in Darfur in 2003, when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against the Bashir's Arab dominated regime for a greater share of resources and power. (ST)

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Publication:Sudan Tribune (Sudan)
Geographic Code:7IRAQ
Date:Mar 15, 2012
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