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Arresting Darfur suspects key to ending conflict: ICC prosecutor

December 15, 2011 (WASHINGTON) – The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Luis Moreno-Ocampo told the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) today that crimes continue to be committed in Sudan’s western region of Darfur.

Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Luis Moreno-Ocampo (Reuters)
Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Luis Moreno-Ocampo (Reuters)
“The Office is concerned about reports of ongoing targeting of civilians, as with the report that 17 civilians from Abu Zereiga were executed by a local militia on 1 June in North Darfur. According to witness accounts, the group of civilians had been kidnapped one week earlier in an alleged attack by government forces with two military helicopters and backed by local militias in Land Cruisers. According to witnesses, government forces had handed the civilians over to the militia group as hostages, before a firing squad executed them” the prosecutor’s report said.

“On 18 June, eleven to twelve people were reportedly killed in an attack in Shangil Tobaya allegedly launched by perpetrators on horses and in cars. Another 30 people were reportedly wounded, while 15?100 houses were burnt and property looted. According to local witnesses referred to by various news media, the attack was attributed to the armed movement SLA?MM. SLA?MM reportedly denied any responsibility”.

In his last briefing before the expiration of his mandate next June, Ocampo said that executing the pending arrest warrant for Darfur suspects is vital to ending the conflict.

“The execution of the arrest warrants will end the crimes in Darfur,” he stressed. “The individuals sought by the court are still allegedly committing genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur.”

“The world knows where the fugitives of the court are,” he said. “They are in official positions, controlling the government of the Sudan, commanding military operations in different parts of the Sudan.”

The ICC has issued arrest warrants for the governor of Sudan’s border state of South Kordofan Ahmed Haroun and Janjaweed militia leader Ali Kushayb.

But the most high-profile suspect is Sudan’s president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir who is accused by the ICC of committing war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur.

Sudan refused to cooperate with the court or surrender any of the suspects.

This month the ICC prosecutor requested a new warrant for Sudan’s defense minister Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein.

“The evidence collected shows that there are reasonable grounds to believe that Hussein is among those who bear the greatest responsibility for the same crimes and incidents that are more fully recited in the Arrest Warrant Application against Harun and Kushayb and that were perpetrated during attacks upon the towns and villages of Kodoom, Bindisi, Mukjar and Arawala in the Wadi Salih and Mukjar Localities of West Darfur” Ocampo’s report said.

“Accordingly, the Office has presented new evidence demonstrating the individual responsibility of Hussein for the commission of these crimes and has also relied upon the evidence submitted to PTCI in support of its previous Application, describing the commission of crimes and Harun and Kushayb’s participation in them”.

But Sudan’s ambassador Dafalla al-Haj Osman dismissed the report accusing Ocampo of bias by ignoring positive developments in Darfur.

Osman stressed that Sudan is not bound by ICC decisions because it has not ratified its founding treaty.

The UNSC referred the situation in Darfur to the ICC in 2005 under a Chapter VII resolution after a U.N. commission of inquiry concluded that Sudan is unable and unwilling to conduct trials for those who perpetrated violence in the war ravaged region.

(ST)