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Sudans al-Bashir vows never to deal with ICC
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    KHARTOUM, Sudan — Sudan’s president said he will never deal with the International Criminal Court where he faces charges of genocide in Darfur, according to a newspaper interview published Thursday.
    The interview with Khartoum independent daily al-Ayyam was Omar al-Bashir’s first comment on how he planned to respond to his July 14 indictment on charges of war crimes in the 5-year-old Darfur conflict.
    ‘‘The government will never deal with the court. It doesn’t recognize it, and will not appear before it,’’ al-Bashir was quoted as saying.
    The United Nations estimates up to 300,000 people have been killed and 2.7 million uprooted in the Darfur conflict since it began in 2003 when ethnic Africans took up arms against the mainly Arab government to press demands for more state funds and services. Government-allied militias are accused of some of the worst atrocities in the war, though the government denies it.
    Al-Bashir also said in the interview that a comprehensive peace deal for Darfur that he has been pursuing could be ready in a week. He said a committee of political parties has been formed to flesh it out but he did not provide any details of the plan. He first announced he was working on a peace deal shortly before his indictment.
    ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo has asked the international court to issue an arrest warrant for al-Bashir, but it may be weeks before the court rules on the request.
    Al-Bashir said no one knows where Moreno-Ocampo got his findings from, adding he is using a number of legal experts to challenge the legitimacy and legality of the indictment. But no Sudanese defense team will travel to the ICC, based in The Hague, Netherlands, to argue his case before the court, al-Bashir insisted.
    Sudan has in the past consistently rejected the ICC’s jurisdiction on the grounds it is not a signatory to the 1998 Rome Statue that set up the court. Last year, it refused to hand over two Sudanese nationals indicted on charges of crimes against humanity. But this is the first time an indictment was issued by an ICC prosecutor against a sitting head of state.
    Al-Bashir said a team of legal experts will challenge the indictment’s legality and the evidence it contains before the U.N. Security Council and the International Court of Justice. He said Sudan will only deal with the International Court of Justice because it is part of the U.N., which his country is a member of.
    He also said Sudan would not object to regional bodies taking up its case with the ICC. The Arab League and the African Union already have asked the Security Council to suspend the case for 12 months, something that only the U.N. body can do under the ICC statue.
    Al-Bashir, who has led an Islamist regime in Sudan since he seized power in a 1989 military coup, repeated his allegations that the indictment is part of what he calls a ‘‘historic plot’’ to destabilize Sudan and break it up into smaller entities.
    ‘‘There is confirmed information from trusted sources that there is a plan to divide Sudan into small states, to turn Sudan into another Yugoslavia,’’ he said.
    Meanwhile, two Sudanese courts convicted 22 people from Darfur of taking part in a rebel attack on the capital in May and sentenced them to death. Three minors were referred to a juvenile court, defense lawyer Adam Belaila said.
    The May 10 attack, carried out by fighters of the Justice and Equality Movement, was the closest that Darfur’s rebels have gotten to the seat of the government. Hundreds of Darfurians were arrested after the attack, which shocked the government. It was not clear how many remain in detention.
    At least 100 security officials, 90 rebels and 30 civilians died in the attack, defense officials have said.

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