ISTANBUL (Hurriyet)–Turkey has no intention of arresting Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir when he visits Turkey next week, despite an international arrest warrant for him, the Turkish Hurriyet Daily reported Wednesday.
Al-Bashir is set to visit Istanbul next week to attend a summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Hurriyet quoted senior Turkish officials as saying. The president will attend the.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) in March ordered the arrest of al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for carrying out a genocide in the country’s western Darfur region. Sudan immediately rejected the decision of the three-judge panel describing it as part of a “neo-colonialist” plan.
Turkey has not ratified the 2002 Rome Statute that established the ICC, but it is under pressure to do so to bring it closer to European Union standards. Rights groups say it is obliged to arrest al-Bashir when he lands in Istanbul.
In Khartoum, one presidential source said: “The decision has been taken. Unless there are last minute changes, he is going.” Asked if Turkish authorities would arrest al-Bashir during his visit, a Turkish Foreign Ministry official said on condition of anonymity, “No, there are no such plans.”
Al-Bashir is the first sitting head of state to be ordered to face the ICC since it began work in 2002. The prosecutor said he had strong evidence that al-Bashir personally instructed his forces to annihilate three ethnic groups, the Fur, the Masalit and the Zaghawa, adding that roughly 2.5 million people had been victimized by his actions. The U.N. says up to 300,000 people have died since the beginning of the genocide in the western Darfur region in 2003.