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Sudan's President Charged With Genocide

Deborah Amos talks with AFP's Jennie Matthew on 'Morning Edition'

Sudan's president has been charged with genocide by the International Criminal Court's prosecutor after an investigation into atrocities in the country's western Darfur province.

ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo asked the court for an arrest warrant for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, the first sitting head of state to be indicted by an international court since Liberia's Charles Taylor and Yugoslavia's Slobodan Milosevic.

Moreno-Ocampo said al-Bashir's arrest could prevent the slow deaths of more than 2 million people who have been forced from their homes and are still under attack from a government-backed militia.

Al-Bashir called the genocide allegation "lies" and said the ICC has no jurisdiction in Sudan.

"From the beginning, we said we are not a member of the court ... the court has no jurisdiction over Sudan," Bashir said in remarks carried on Sudan state television. "Whoever has visited Darfur, met officials and discovered their ethnicities and tribes ... will know that all of these things (including ethnic cleansing) are lies."

Fearing an upsurge in violence from an enraged al-Bashir and emboldened rebels in Darfur, aid organizations have tightened security in Sudan in recent days.

Judges in The Hague are expected to take months to study the evidence against the Sudanese president.

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