The president of the International Criminal Court has rejected criticism of the timing of the tribunal's arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.
Canadian judge Philippe Kirsch said Tuesday the court cannot take political issues into account as it carries out its mandate to prosecute the most senior perpetrators of war crimes.
Judges at the court last week issued an arrest warrant for al-Bashir for allegedly masterminding atrocities in Sudan's western region of Darfur.
Al-Bashir rejects the charges. His administration refuses to arrest him and turn him over for trial in The Hague.
The African Union chief has called the arrest warrant "counterproductive" for peace efforts in Darfur.