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Omar al-Bashir charged by Hague for orchestrating Darfur genocide

Omar al-Bashir, the President of Sudan, has been charged with three counts of genocide in Darfur by the International Criminal Court.

By Mike CorderAssociated Press Writer / July 12, 2010

On Monday the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, charged Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir with three counts of genocide in Darfur, a move that will pile further diplomatic pressure on his isolated regime. The decision marked the first time the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal has issued genocide charges.

Abd Raouf/AP/File

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The Hague, Netherlands

The International Criminal Court on Monday charged Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir with three counts of genocide in Darfur, a move that will pile further diplomatic pressure on his isolated regime.

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The decision marked the first time the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal has issued genocide charges.

An arrest warrant for al-Bashir said there were "reasonable grounds to believe" that since April 2003 Sudanese forces attempted genocide against the Darfur tribal groups Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa.

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Last year, judges issued a warrant against the president for crimes against humanity, but refused to indict al-Bashir on genocide charges as sought by prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo. The prosecutor appealed that ruling, and four months ago an appellate court ruled that the lower court's decision was legally wrong.

Prosecutors then filed their case again, and on Monday judges issued an arrest warrant charging al-Bashir with three counts of genocide: by killing, by causing mental and physical harm, and "by deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about physical destruction."

David Crane, the former chief prosecutor at the Special Court for Sierra Leone who indicted ex-Liberian leader Charles Taylor, called the decision a "proper step forward" that completes prosecutors' picture of atrocities in Darfur.

"It is an odd presentation if the genocide was not allowed to go forward," said Crane, who is now a law professor at Syracuse University. "They would almost have to dance around the obvious. Now we have a complete indictment that captures all the offenses that have taken place."

Genocide, the gravest crime in international law, requires proof of an intent to wipe out "in whole or in part" a racial, religious or ethnic group.

Moreno Ocampo accuses al-Bashir of keeping 2.5 million refugees from specific ethnic groups in Darfur in camps "under genocide conditions, like a gigantic Auschwitz."