The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said on Wednesday he planned to investigate senior Sudanese government officials over continuing crimes against humanity in Darfur.
Sudan accused the prosecutor of politicizing the issue and warned his actions could threaten peace prospects in Darfur.
Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo urged the U.N. Security Council to hold Sudan to its obligation to arrest two suspects indicted for crimes against humanity in Darfur, saying Khartoum was not cooperating with him and was still involved in abuses.
He said one of the indictees, former state minister of the interior Ahmad Haroun, was not only free but had even been promoted to a position overseeing aid in which he was part of an ongoing calculated, organized campaign of abuse against 2.5 million displaced Darfuris in camps.
All information points not to chaotic and isolated acts but to a pattern of attacks, he said.
Moreno-Ocampo, who launched his investigation in 2005 at the request of the Security Council, said violence in 2003-2004 was the first phase of the criminal plan coordinated by Ahmad Haroun, with millions forced from their villages into camps.
In the second phase, happening right now in front of our eyes, the victims are attacked in the camps. Ahmad Haroun is a key actor. But he is not alone, Moreno-Ocampo said, adding that the failure to arrest him was a clear indication of the support he had from other high government officials.
My office will proceed to investigate who is bearing the greatest responsibility for ongoing attacks against civilians; who is maintaining Haroun in a position to commit crimes; who is instructing him, he told the council.
SUDAN SAYS COURT MAY JEOPARDIZE PEACE
Sudan's U.N. Ambassador Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem accused Moreno-Ocampo of moral and professional bankruptcy, denouncing his report as the mother of all fabrications and saying the prosecutor had become politicized.
There's no way we're going to surrender our citizens to the ICC, he told reporters outside the council. If there are any accusations against our people, the Sudanese judiciary is more than capable of doing that.
Abdalhaleem said Moreno-Ocampo's work would interfere with a roadmap for peace in Darfur, which includes the deployment of U.N.-AU peacekeepers, talks with rebels mediated by the United Nations and the African Union and humanitarian support.
We caution against allowing him to spoil this road map and to spoil the peace process in Sudan, Abdalhaleem said.
Moreno-Ocampo said he would also open a case investigating attacks on humanitarian workers and peacekeepers in Darfur, including an attack that killed 10 African Union peacekeepers in the eastern Darfur town of Haskanita in late September.
Moreno-Ocampo issued indictments in February for Haroun and Ali Kushayb, a Janjaweed militia leader, for their roles in mass executions, rapes and forcible evictions.
He the Sudanese government was challenging the Security Council in not cooperating and by maintaining Haroun in a position to threaten millions of victims.
I ask the Security Council for consistency, Moreno-Ocampo said, asking it to send a strong and unanimous message to Khartoum.
In practice, the council is unlikely to do more than issue a statement urging cooperation, and even that will be complicated by support for Sudan from its close ally China, as well as some others on the council such as Qatar.
British Ambassador John Sawers said he hoped a presidential statement would be adopted during the week that would express concern over the failure to arrest the suspects. Such statements need unanimous support to be passed.
The Council is going to want to study very carefully the response of the government of Sudan on this track, Sawers told reporters. We'll need to consider their response. We're not making any statements or threats now but clearly sanctions is one element in our armory and we'll need to consider that when we see how the government of Sudan responds.