SUDAN WATCH: New York Times & Reuters misinformed? ICC says no arrest warrant yet for Sudan's President Bashir (Update 3)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

New York Times & Reuters misinformed? ICC says no arrest warrant yet for Sudan's President Bashir (Update 3)

So it looks like Reuters and The New York Times are being fed misinformation.  They are not the only ones as other news agencies picked up on news from Reuters and The New York Times, spawning a mini avalanche of news reports claiming that the ICC judges have agreed to indict Bashir.

This afternoon's news report from AlArabiya.net & Agencies says no arrest warrant for Sudan's Bashir.

"At this moment, there is no arrest warrant," ICC spokeswoman Laurence Blairon told AFP after the New York Times reported that judges had decided to issue a warrant as requested last July by chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo.

"When we have something to announce, we will announce it. For now, there is nothing to announce," he said.

Feb. 12, 2009 report from The Hague/UN by AlArabiya.net, Agencies:
Reports say ICC judges agreed to indict Bashir
ICC says no arrest warrant for Sudan's Bashir
The International Criminal Court (ICC) said Thursday it has not issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for crimes in Darfur contrary to press reports that it had been issued.

"At this moment, there is no arrest warrant," spokeswoman Laurence Blairon told AFP after the New York Times reported that judges had decided to issue a warrant as requested last July by chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo.

"When we have something to announce, we will announce it. For now, there is nothing to announce," he said.

The newspaper reported Wednesday that ICC judges had decided to issue an arrest warrant for al-Bashir.

Quoting court lawyers and diplomats, the Times said precise charges cited by the judges against Bashir had not been disclosed, but a formal announcement was expected by the court in the coming days.

"I can confirm that no decision has been received by the Secretary General. We do not anticipate receiving such communication and we do not normally receive such communication "

U.N. deputy spokeswoman Marie Okabe

It quoted United Nations officials as saying the decision on the warrant was communicated to U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon, though this was denied by a U.N. spokeswoman.

"I can confirm that no decision has been received by the Secretary General. We do not anticipate receiving such communication and we do not normally receive such communication," U.N. deputy spokeswoman Marie Okabe said.

And Japan's U.N. Ambassador Yukio Takasu, the president of the Security Council this month, said the council had not yet been informed.
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This afternoon's news make more sense than earlier reports posted here today at Sudan Watch.  The latest news (copied here below) from Associated Press is that the ICC said Thursday no arrest warrant has been issued for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.  Court spokeswoman Sonia Robla said she did not know whether the judges have made their decision, but that no warrant has yet been issued publicly or under seal.  

Other court officials said they expected a decision this month. United Nations spokeswoman Marie Okabe said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has not been told of any decision by the court, which is the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal.

Report from Associated Press by Mike Corder (The Hague, Netherlands) Thursday 12 February, 2009
Int'l Court: no arrest warrant yet for al-Bashir
A spokeswoman for the International Criminal Court said Thursday no arrest warrant has yet been issued for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for masterminding atrocities in his country's Darfur region.

The court's prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, asked a three-judge panel in July to order al-Bashir's arrest on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

If judges agree, al-Bashir would be the first sitting head of state indicted by the court since it was established in 2002.
But the warrant may not cite all the charges sought by the prosecutor, omitting any charges the judges believe are not supported by submitted evidence.

The New York Times, citing unnamed lawyers and diplomats, reported late Wednesday that judges have decided to issue a warrant.

Court spokeswoman Sonia Robla said she did not know whether the judges have made their decision, but that no warrant has yet been issued publicly or under seal. Other court officials said they expected a decision this month.

United Nations spokeswoman Marie Okabe said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has not been told of any decision by the court, which is the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal.

While the court is independent of the United Nations, it was the Security Council that called for an investigation into possible war crimes in Darfur.

In Washington, a senior U.S. official said the Obama administration expected the arrest warrant "to come down before the end of the month." The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the diplomatic sensitivity of the situation.

Even if the court issues an arrest warrant for al-Bashir, there is no guarantee he will be sent to the court's seat in The Hague any time soon. Sudan does not recognize the court's jurisdiction and refuses to turn over suspects.

However, an arrest warrant would put al-Bashir alongside the likes of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, his political ally Radovan Karadzic and Liberian ex-president Charles Taylor as national leaders indicted for atrocities committed while they were in office.

All three eventually ended up in The Hague; Milosevic's genocide trial was aborted when he died of a heart attack in 2006, Taylor is on trial at the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and Karadzic's genocide trial is expected to start this year at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal.

Al-Bashir rose to power in a 1989 military coup and has ruled his east African nation with the support of the military, northern tribal leaders and a ruling party with an Islamic fundamentalist ideology.

U.N. officials are worried about reprisals if the arrest warrant is issued, including a possible attempt by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to order the U.N. out of Sudan.

Al-Bashir's government is currently in peace talks with Darfur's most powerful rebel group in the Qatar capital, Doha.

A cease-fire between the government and the rebels of the Justice and Equality Movement would be a significant step in easing fighting in Darfur, where rebel groups, complaining of discrimination and neglect, took up arms against the government in 2003. The six years of fighting has left 300,000 people dead and 2.7 million displaced, according to U.N. figures.

Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Ali al-Sadiq underscored Wednesday that "Sudan will not hand over any of its citizens to the ICC and any indictment by the ICC is categorically rejected."

Speaking in Khartoum, al-Sadiq said that the court is "a mere tool for political conspiracy against the Sudan and that it has nothing to do with the international justice."

Associated Press Writers Matthew Lee in Washington and John Heilprin at the United Nations contributed to this report.
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RELATED REPORTS
See Sudan Watch Thursday, February 12, 2009:
Diplomats say Judges approve Bashir arrest warrant - UN chief knows of ICC decision to indict Sudan's president over Darfur?
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From Reuters Amsterdam February 12, 2009 - excerpt:
ICC says judges not yet decided on Sudan's Bashir
Judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) have not yet decided whether to indict Sudan's president for war crimes in Darfur and issue an arrest warrant, the court said in a statement on Thursday.

U.N diplomats and officials told Reuters on Wednesday that the court's judges had already decided to indict Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and issue the warrant.

"The judges are considering their decision and when we have something to announce we will announce it in the usual way," ICC spokeswoman Laurence Blairon said.

The decision of the judges at the court, based in The Hague, is expected to be made public this month. [...]

(Reporting by Catherine Hornby; Editing by Matthew Tostevin)
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From Sudan Tribune Thursday 12 February 2009 13:13.
BREAKING NEWS: ICC says no decision has yet been taken for Sudanese president:
February 12, 2009 (THE HAGUE) — The International Criminal Court (ICC) dismissed today the issuance of an arrest warrant for the Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir.

"No decision has yet been taken by the judges of Pre-Trial Chamber I concerning the Prosecutor’s application of 14 July 2008 for the issuance of such a warrant," the ICC said in a press statement issued today.

The world court was reacting to press reports saying the judges of the pretrial court had decided to issue a warrant for the arrest of Sudanese President on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur region, according to an official at the United Nations.

"The Pre-Trial Chamber’s decision will be made public by the normal way of a press release and publication on the Court’s website," said the statement. (ST)

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