ICC prosecutor set to charge Sudan's Bashir
THE HAGUE (Reuters) - The International Criminal Court's (ICC) prosecutor is poised to seek the arrest of Sudan's president on Monday for alleged genocide in Darfur in a move Khartoum warns could set fire to the region.
The prosecutor is widely expected to ask 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 before that Yugoslavia's Slobodan Milosevic.
Fearing an upsurge in violence from an enraged Bashir and emboldened rebels in Darfur, aid organizations have tightened security in Sudan in recent days.
Sudan, which is not a party to the court and has refused to cooperate with its investigation, has said any such move could harm the Darfur peace process and looks set to seek Chinese, Russian and African support at the United Nations to help block any warrant.
The new Darfur case could embarrass China -- Khartoum's biggest arms supplier and a major investor in its oil industry -- just weeks before the start of the Beijing Olympics.
Darfur is home to the world's largest humanitarian operation and officials have also expressed concern an indictment could further stall the deployment of a U.N.-funded peacekeeping operation.
ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said last month Sudan's "entire state apparatus" was involved in an organized campaign to attack civilians in Darfur and he would charge top officials.
His office said last week he will submit on Monday "evidence on crimes committed in the whole of Darfur over the last five years," but gave no more details of who he would charge.
The Washington Post quoted U.N. officials and diplomats as saying he will charge Bashir with genocide and crimes against humanity. Washington accuses the Khartoum government of genocide in Darfur, a charge it flatly denies.