October 5, 2008 (KHARTOUM) – Arab justice ministers will meet in Cairo a week from today to discuss the indictment of Sudanese President Omer Hassan Al-Bashir by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Sudan official news agency (SUNA) quoted justice minister Abdel-Basit Sabdarat as saying that the Arab League proposal to resolve the crisis is proceeding as planned. He also welcomed the meeting by Arab justice ministers.
Khartoum has made a request a few months back for such a meeting. However it is not clear what will be on the agenda.
In mid-July the ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo announced that he is seeking an arrest warrant for Al-Bashir.
The ICC’s prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo filed 10 charges: three counts of genocide, five of crimes against humanity and two of murder. It was only last week that judges have started reviewing the case in a process that could possibly drag on to next year.
In the same month the Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa carried a number of proposals to Al-Bashir last month which included conducting internal trials for Darfur war crimes suspects.
However the following month Sudanese presidential adviser Mustafa Ismail was quoted by the daily Al-Hayat newspaper as telling reporters in Cairo after meeting with Moussa “that there are some parts of the plan that need more discussions”.
Ismail also insisted that the Sudanese judiciary is capable of looking into the Darfur war crimes and noted the recent appointment of a special prosecutor for Darfur by Sudan’s justice minister.
Sudan’s appointment of a special prosecutor was seen as concession that would provide leverage to the Arab League and African Union (AU) when requesting a resolution from the UN Security Council (UNSC) deferring Al-Bashir’s indictment under Article 16 of the ICC Statute.
Sabdarat said today that the prosecutions have made some progress with some suspects in detention and being investigated.
He also lashed out at Ocampo saying that he crossed his limits as a prosecutor by discussing his case on “satellite TV’s”.
The ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I headed held a closed meeting with Ocampo this week regarding his application for the first time. It is expected that they may take up to three months to issue a decision.
Sudan has not ratified the Rome Statute, but the UNSC triggered the provisions under the Statute that enables it to refer situations in non-State parties to the world court if it deems that it is a threat to international peace and security.