Chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Luis Moreno-Ocampo defended the decision to issue a warrant for the arrest of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity against concerns about the repercussion for peace in Darfur in an exclusive interview with Al Arabiya TV.
"We've got to work now to implement the decision of the judges" chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told Al Arabiya TV in an exclusive interview as the decision was being read by the ICC court. "I think this changes everything."
The interview laid out several implications of the ICC's decision, one of which is the potential overthrow of the Sudanese government as a consequence of the ICC warrant.
"The ICC does not call for overthrowing or ousting any government, but calls for bringing Bashir to justice for his war crimes," Ocampo argued.
"The U.S. does not have power to go into Sudan and bring Bashir to justice, this is something that the Sudanese government must have prerogative for" Ocampa said.
The ICC has no powers to enforce its own arrest warrants and the ICC said only states can apprehend Bashir, who can be arrested on the territory of states who have signed up to the court's founding Rome Statute.
Ocampo said that if Bashir should show up in Djibouti, the government must deliver him to the ICC for prosecution.
Despite the ICC's stance that Bashir's position as head of state does not grant him immunity, opponents of the ICC's decision accused the international body of meddling in Sudan's internal affairs and possibly igniting civil war between various factions.
Peacekeeping missions in Sudan warned that the decision would ignite a violent uproar on the streets and top African Union official Jean Ping warned the warrant could threaten an ailing peace process in Sudan.
"What is a threat to peace and stability in Sudan is Bashir," Ocampo said, referring to evidence of genocide in Southern Sudan as proof that Bashir must not be granted immunity because he is head of state. The ICC did not charge Bashir with genocide.
Ocampo cited crimes of rape of 1000 women as well as bombing that killed many civilians two weeks ago.
"Five million people in Sudan are dying slowly. We must take action to stop the deterioration of security situation in Sudan," he said, adding later that evidence showed Bashir was personally embroiled in the crimes.
ICC may jeopardize peace plans and previous efforts
Ocampo dismissed concerns that the warrant weakens the role of the African Union, noting that the ICC had 12 judges from the A.U. who have taken the responsibility to call for justice. The presiding judge on the warrant decision was from Ghana.
"We have 12 judges giving their word in this warrant," Ocampo said, while brushing off any possibility of the ICC detracting its warrant.
Strong evidence not credible
Even the 30 witnesses who testified came under scrutiny as opponents questioned their credibility, arguing that they are had resided outside of Sudan for years and could have alternative motives in the trial.
Ocampo, however, countered that they live abroad for fear of being persecuted at the hands of the Sudanese government.
"These witnesses are also victims of Bashir's war crimes they are therefore sufficient. If Bashir is free, he is bound to cause more danger," he said.
He refuted accusations that ICC's warrant against Bashir was religiously and ethnically motivated and that the ICC's efforts were more often than not directed at "the black continent" while ignoring Russian crimes committed in Georgia, crimes in Columbia and China's persecution of Tibetans.
"This isn't an Islamic or ethnic or political issue but a legal one and we only look at cases of legal import," Ocampa said. "We do our best and we must use legal means based on evidence. We are not biased against anyone."
To see Al Arabiya's full interview in English with Ocampo visit