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Surrender Haroun to the ICC, Bensouda urges Sudanese officials

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June 2, 2021 (KHARTOUM) - The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Fatou Bensouda requested the Sudanese authorities to hand over to the war crimes tribunal Ahmed Haroun, a former Sudanese official indicted for war crimes in Darfur.

Ahmed Haroun (Reuters photo)Boosted by the strong calls to demand the surrender of al-Bashir and his aides by the displaced people during her two-day visit to Darfur, Bensoua repeated to the Sudanese officials her request to transfer Haroun at least to the ICC.

The outgoing prosecutor met on Wednesday with Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, Head of the Sovereign Council Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the two members of the Council from the former rebel groups signatory of Juba peace agreement Malik Agar of the SPLM-N and Tahir Hajer of the SLFA.

In a press conference held after these meetings, Benouda said the main discussions centred around the surrender of Ahmed Haroun and the need for continuous cooperation between the transitional government and the ICC to achieve justice in Darfur.

"I discussed specifically the case of Ahmed Haroun whom, as you know, was charged together with Ali Kushyab with the same crimes and Ali Kushyab case has already started. the confirmation of charges has started and it would be extremely important to conduct the trial of these individuals together".

"We are confident that we have presented to the judges we believe that Ali Kushyab will go to trial. this is why I have repeatedly emphasized that it was important to have start at least with Ahmed Haroun surrender to the ICC," she further said

Ahmad Haroun who is currently arrested in Khartoum was the minister of state for the Interior. He is charged with 20 counts of crimes against humanity and 22 counts of war crimes allegedly committed at least between 2003 and 2004 in Darfur, according to an arrest warrant issued on 27 April 2007.

In a statement issued after the meeting with Bensouda, the Sovereign Council stated that al-Burhan reiterated his confidence in the Sudanese judicial courts and their ability to deal with war crimes committed in Darfur.

"Al-Burhan stressed the full cooperation of our judicial authorities to establish justice and hold those wanted accountable under the regulations of the International Criminal Court," said the statement.

Regarding Bensouda’s meeting with Agar and Hajer, the Council in a separate statement said they pledged to "work with other parties in the government to help execute (the arrest warrants)".

For his part, Hamdok thanked Bensouda’s "efforts for justice and redress for the victims and renewed the government’s commitment to cooperating with the court to achieve justice," without any pledge to hand over Haroun.

In her press conference, Bensouda recalled that the arrest warrants against al-Bashir and the other former officials have not been cancelled and the ICC is seeking to see these warrants be executed.

If the Sudanese authorities "have a different view or idea this is a matter that has to be discussed.

She further stressed that if the government wants the trial takes place in Sudan instead of The Hague, the conditionalities laid down in the ICC courtroom have to be met before that can happen.

"So, we do not know what kind of formula the government wants to take for the trial to take place but as far as we are concerned, we have investigated we have charges the warrant arrests still exist and we are asking that the warrants to be executed and the persons wanted to be transferred to the ICC," she emphasized.

During her visit to Darfur, thousands of displaced people chanted slogans calling for al-Bashir surrender to the ICC and asked the visiting prosecutor to stick to its demand for his handover.

On 19 December 2020, al-Burhan admitted the right of victims of war crimes in the Darfur region to resort to the ICC.

"We have not yet decided on the International Criminal Court. But, we support our people in any place they choose to try (the responsible for Darfur crimes) and they have the right to go there."

"If we are unable to achieve justice for our people here, they have the right to demand that justice be done wherever they choose. We are bound to achieve their demands," he further stressed.

On 9 June, Bensouda is expected to brief the Security Council about her visit to Sudan and what the Sudanese officials said about the surrender of the wanted former officials who are all in jail.

(ST)

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