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Sudan Leader To Be Charged With Genocide

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Officials familiar with Moreno-Ocampo's investigation said Bashir is unlikely to surrender to the ICC anytime soon. The leader has refused to release to the court two other Sudanese nationals indicted in April 2007, even appointing one of them, Ahmed Haroun, to oversee international peacekeepers and humanitarian relief efforts.

The Bush administration has long opposed the International Criminal Court, fearing it would conduct frivolous investigations of alleged crimes by U.S. service members. But the United States allowed the Security Council to authorize the court to investigate war crimes in Darfur.

Critics of Moreno-Ocampo, including some inside the United Nations, said an arrest warrant may undercut international efforts to negotiate a political settlement between Khartoum and Darfur's rebel groups. But ICC supporters counter that Bashir has never been committed to a political settlement and that he will respond only to tough measures.

"Bashir will certainly use the indictment to justify some awful reactions, such as humanitarian aid restrictions and further barriers" to the joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur, said John Prendergast, co-chairman of the Enough Project, an initiative to end crimes against humanity. "But if the international community stands firm and makes it clear that these kinds of responses will only make matters worse for Bashir . . . then he will relent."

ICC advocates contend that such court actions contribute to peace efforts. Previous indictments of world leaders -- such as former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic and former Liberian president Charles Taylor -- by other U.N. tribunals have ultimately contributed to stability in those countries, said Richard Dicker, director of the international justice office at Human Rights Watch.

"I would never belittle the potential dangers" of such international prosecutions," Dicker said. "It is the prosecutor's job, however, to follow the evidence wherever it leads, regardless of the people in high positions, he investigates. . . . Will it be controversial? You bet. What is at stake here is limiting the impunity of those associated with these horrific events in Darfur since 2003."

Boustany reported from Washington. Correspondent Stephanie McCrummen in Nairobi contributed to this report.

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