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Page last updated at 09:32 GMT, Friday, 6 June 2008 10:32 UK

Sudan leader lambasts 'campaign'

Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmed El Bashir
President Bashir says facts have been distorted and exaggerated

Sudan's president has said his country faces a "vicious campaign" after an international court accused his government of crimes against humanity.

Omar al-Bashir did not specifically mention the International Criminal Court's report.

But he said an "unfair and intentional" campaign was seeking to "exaggerate and distort facts".

The ICC report compared aspects of the Sudanese government's behaviour in Darfur to that of Nazi Germany.

A delegation from the Security Council has been visiting Sudan as part of a tour of Africa.

Mr Bashir told the visiting UN envoys the campaign was led by people "bent on exploiting the conflict in Darfur to serve their own agenda".

The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, has urged Sudan to cooperate with the ICC, saying that impunity for serious crimes committed in Darfur cannot be accepted.


Sudanese officials protect the criminals and not the victims

Luis Moreno-Ocampo

In the report, ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said Sudanese officials were covering up and denying crimes.

"We've seen it before," he told the UN Security Council.

"The Nazi regime invoked its national sovereignty to attack its own population, and then crossed borders to attack people in other countries."

Sudan's ambassador to the UN, Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamed, said the comments were "fictitious and vicious" and harmful to the prospects of peace.

Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmed El Bashir
President Bashir says facts have been distorted and exaggerated

Mr Moreno-Ocampo delivered his report in New York to those UN Security Council members who have not travelled to Darfur and other African trouble-spots.

He said the "whole state apparatus" of Sudan was implicated in crimes against humanity in Darfur.

"The entire Darfur region is a crime scene. Despite promises and denials over the last five years, millions of civilians have been targeted by officials who vowed to protect them. Impunity reigns. Today we have an historic opportunity to confront those massive crimes," he said.

Appeasement

The UN delegation met some of the two million Darfuris who have fled their homes, as well as local officials and members of the under-strength UN-African Union peacekeeping force.

By accusing Sudan's "whole state apparatus" of helping shield criminals, correspondents say, the ICC prosecutor is implicating some of the highest officials of the government, although he does not name any individuals.

The treaty that created the ICC was intended to hold individuals, not entire states, responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The US has said the killings of black Africans in Darfur amount to a genocide - but the UN has not used that term.

Promoted

Sudan has always denied charges that it organised the Janjaweed militias to take revenge on Darfuris after black African rebels took up arms in 2003.

SUSPECTS' PROFILES
Ahmed Haroun
- In charge of Darfur in 2003 and 2004 as deputy interior minister
- Quoted as saying that he had been given the authority to either kill or forgive in Darfur for the sake of peace and security
Ali Kushayb
- Commanded thousands of Janjaweed in mid-2003
- Allegedly promoted and witnessed rape and torture as part of the war strategy

But Mr Moreno-Ocampo said the pro-government Arab militias are still targeting civilians, who are being bombed, tortured, killed and raped.

He again demanded that Sudan hand over Ali Kushayb, a leader of the Janjaweed militia, and Ahmad Harun, Sudan's current humanitarian affairs minister.

He said Mr Harun had been promoted and was now on a committee overseeing the deployment of UN and African Union peacekeepers.

The two men are charged with 51 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including acts of murder, persecution, torture, rape and forcible displacement.

Both men have denied involvement in war crimes.

Mr Moreno-Ocampo's report states that the ICC is proceeding with two new investigations - one involving government activities in Darfur and the other related to attacks on peacekeepers and aid workers.

He said this included the Darfur rebels alleged to have been responsible for the killing of African Union peacekeepers in Haskanita last year.


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