Feb 26, 2007 (KHARTOUM) — Sudan said the International Criminal Court has no jurisdiction over its nationals and the government would not allow any of its citizens, including rebels, to be tried outside Sudan, local media said on Monday.
Sudanese media also reported that Khartoum would put a number of people on trial next week, including military personnel and paramilitary troops, for alleged involvement in attacks in Darfur in Sudan’s west. But the scope of the planned trial was not immediately clear.
The comments came a day before the ICC’s chief prosecutor’s office was due to name the first war crimes suspects for Darfur, where experts say about 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million driven from their homes since conflict flared in 2003.
Khartoum says only about 9,000 people have died.
“The ICC has no jurisdiction to try any Sudanese,” Sudan’s Justice Minister Mohamed Ali al-Mardi was quoted as saying by the daily Akhbar Al-Youm newspaper.
“The Sudanese government will not allow any Sudanese to be tried and punished outside the national justice framework,” he added.
Mardi said that included members of Sudan’s armed forces, its paramilitary Popular Defense Force, and rebels who have taken up arms against the government.
The ICC’s chief prosecutor said in December his investigators had found evidence of rape, torture, murder and sexual violence in Darfur. Tuesday’s list is keenly awaited to see if it includes government figures as well as rebels.
United Nations and African Union observers blame pro-government militia, known as Janjaweed, for the worst atrocities. But the ICC is under pressure to charge figures from all sides of the conflict.
Ongoing fighting has hampered the work of ICC investigators, who have had to interview witnesses outside Sudan. The conflict has caused one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises and spilled over to Chad and the Central African Republic.
Sudanese newspapers said Sudan’s trial to start next week would include a number of suspects accused of violence in west Darfur in 2003. The suspects, whose names were not given, were being charged with murder, kidnapping and arson.
Several Sudanese newspapers said the trial was not linked to the imminent announcement by the ICC. A Justice Ministry spokesman could not be reached for comment.
Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir also reiterated on Monday his rejection of a U.N. Security Council resolution that calls for the deployment of some 22,500 U.N. peacekeepers and police to take over from African Union forces in Darfur.
Bashir, speaking in Addis Ababa, said the plan would put Sudan “under international trusteeship of the United Nations”.
Some analysts say Khartoum has resisted pressure to authorise a deployment U.N. peacekeepers to support a 7,000-strong African Union mission in Darfur because it fears U.N. soldiers might be used to arrest ICC suspects.
The ICC, the world’s first permanent war crimes court, started work in 2002. The court is now supported by 104 nations, although still not by Russia, China and the United States, which fiercely opposed the creation of the ICC fearing it would be used for politically motivated prosecutions of its citizens.
In March 2005, the U.N. Security Council asked the ICC to launch an investigation into the violence in Darfur, which the United States has called genocide, a charge Khartoum denies.
The Darfur case was seen as a turning point for the court as Washington refrained from blocking the Security Council referral.