- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 12, 2008

UNITED NATIONS | Monday’s expected indictment of Sudanese President Omar Bashir on charges of crimes against humanity could score points for justice even as it derails hopes for peace, U.N. diplomats and bureaucrats said this week.

The indictment, which is to be unsealed at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, is expected to name Mr. Bashir and at least one of his senior officials in connection with the widespread displacement, murder and rape committed by government troops and their militias against the people of Darfur.

ICC prosecutor Luiz Moreno Ocampo is expected to present evidence against the Sudanese leader and ask the court to issue a warrant for his arrest - the second time in history a sitting African president has been indicted for war crimes. In 2003, a U.N.-created tribunal indicted then-Liberian President Charles Taylor.

Khartoum, which has not signed onto the court’s statute, has rejected the legitimacy of the ICC and refused to turn over two Sudanese indicted last year.

The Sudanese government went on the offensive Friday, purporting the destabilizing effect of a presidential arrest warrant.

Government spokesman Mahjoub Fadul Badry dismissed Mr. Moreno-Ocampo as “a terrorist” who relies on rebels and insurgents for his information.”

“Moreno-Ocampo’s report depends on verbal testimony of rebel leaders and organizations that work under a humanitarian cover but in fact are branches of the intelligence apparatuses of other countries,” Mr. Badry told the Associated Press. “In the end, we don’t really care what he says.”

Meanwhile, U.N. officials confirmed Friday night that two peacekeeping bases in Darfur were attacked with gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades. No one was injured, and no group has taken responsibility.

Seven peacekeepers were killed in an ambush Tuesday in government-held territory, an attack that was condemned by the Security Council, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and many governments - including, belatedly, Khartoum.

Humanitarian workers, peacekeeping officials and diplomats expressed concern that the ICC action could make their already difficult jobs that much harder. They fear the government might lift what little protection it supplies for relief efforts, or even tacitly condone the attacks.

Aid workers and drivers of supply trucks have been subjected to harassment, carjackings, attacks, robberies and more on the desolate roadways of western Sudan.

Diplomats, including Security Council members, U.N. special envoys, national representatives and others, have urged the government and the rebel groups to begin negotiations that could lead to a cease-fire and eventual peace.

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