The chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court said Thursday that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir's "destiny" is clear: he will face justice for alleged genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur.
Luis Moreno Ocampo said it took 18 years to arrest all 161 people indicated by the U.N. tribunal prosecuting war crimes in former Yugoslavia, and al-Bashir will eventually be arrested and handed over to the ICC.
"International justice is here to stay," he told a news conference after briefing the U.N. Security Council. "It will take time but the destiny is clear. He will face justice."
Moreno Ocampo said all countries _ including Sudan _ have a legal obligation under the Security Council resolution that referred the Darfur conflict to the court in 2005 to arrest al-Bashir and two other Sudanese indicted by the ICC.
Sudan's U.N. Ambassador Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman disputed Moreno Ocampo's allegations of war crimes against Sudanese officials, stressing that Sudan is not a party to the Rome statute that established the court "and we do not recognize the ICC."
Moreno Ocampo said that at the closed Security Council meeting there was "full support for arrest warrants issued" by the court.
He said many ambassadors said "Sudan should cooperate with the court because it's not about being a member of the ICC, but about complying with Security Council resolutions."
The prosecutor said he asked the council "to come up with a comprehensive strategy integrating political negotiations with justice efforts," and to address the refusal by Chad and Malawi to arrest al-Bashir when he visited.
Osman said Moreno Ocampo had ignored the government's efforts to promote peace in Darfur and "falsely" sought an arrest warrant earlier this month for Sudan's defense minister, Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein, who has been heavily involved in these negotiations in order "to prevent the peaceful efforts of the government to establish peace and security in Sudan."
The prosecutor alleged that Hussein committed crimes against humanity and war crimes by helping orchestrate atrocities in Darfur.
A panel of judges will study evidence filed by Moreno Ocampo before deciding whether to issue a warrant for Hussein's arrest.
Darfur was plunged into turmoil in 2003, when ethnic African rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated Sudanese government, whom they accused of discrimination.
The Khartoum government is accused of retaliating by unleashing Arab militias on civilians _ a charge the government denies. The U.N. estimates 300,000 people have died and 2.7 million have been displaced in the conflict.