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    International Criminal Court issues arrest warrant for Sudan's leader - 2

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    The International Criminal Court on Wednesday issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir over war crimes against civilians in Sudan's Darfur Province.

    (Recasts throughout, adds UN comment in para 6, Sudan's demand in para 11)

    THE HAGUE, March 4 (RIA Novosti) - The International Criminal Court on Wednesday issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir over war crimes against civilians in Sudan's Darfur Province.

    The court indicted al-Bashir on seven counts for war crimes, crimes against humanity, murder, forcible displacement, and other crimes, but said it had not found sufficient grounds to include the count of genocide in the warrant.

    ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, who asked the court to issue an arrest warrant for al-Bashir last July, said he had 30 witnesses who were ready to testify to the court on the Sudanese president's actions aimed at annihilating three Sudanese ethnic groups - the Fur, the Masalit and the Zaghawa.

    According to the United Nations, more than 300,000 people have been killed and around 2.7 million displaced in the long-running conflict in Darfur.

    A spokesperson for the court said it was the first ever warrant against an incumbent head of state. He also said that if Sudan fails to comply with the warrant, it could be referred to the UN Security Council, as the ICC has no powers to enforce its own warrants.

    However, the UN chief's spokesperson said on Wednesday that the United Nations would continue official contacts with the incumbent Sudan's president despite the ICC warrant for his arrest.

    Speaking before the court's decision, the 65-year-old al-Bashir said he would dismiss the warrant as worthless.

    "Any decision by the International Criminal Court has no value for us. It will not be worth the ink it is written on," he said on Tuesday at the opening of a dam on the Nile River.

    Shortly after the court's announcement, Sudanese officials said Khartoum would not recognize the ICC's jurisdiction, and suggested the court's decision was linked to an effort to destabilize Sudan.

    Sudan's Deputy Foreign Minister Mutrif Siddiq said al-Bashir would attend all summits organized by the Arab League and the African Union in the future, despite the arrest warrant.

    Sudan also demanded on Wednesday that the warrant be cancelled rather than suspended, as many African leaders earlier suggested.

    Some nations, including China and Russia, have expressed concern that the warrant could undermine recent progress in international efforts to broker peace in Darfur and could spark a violence reaction.

    Russian presidential envoy for Sudan Mikhail Margelov, who proposed in January holding an international conference on Darfur in Moscow in September, said the ICC decision "sets a dangerous precedent in international relations" and "could hamper international aid efforts in Sudan bringing the country to the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe."

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