The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court filed genocide charges Monday against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, accusing him of masterminding attempts to wipe out African tribes in Darfur with a campaign of murder, rape and deportation.
The filing marked the first time prosecutors at the world's first permanent, global war crimes court have issued charges against a sitting head of state.
Luis Moreno-Ocampo asked a three-judge panel at the International Criminal Court to issue an arrest warrant for Al-Bashir to prevent more deaths. Some 2.5 million people have been forced from their homes in Darfur and are still under attack from government-backed janjaweed militia.
"Genocide is a crime of intention — we don't need to wait until these 2.5 million die," he said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Moreno-Ocampo was undeterred by concern that his indictment against al-Bashir might lead to vengeance against Darfur refugees and the closing of Sudan's doors to relief agencies and possibly peacekeeping troops.