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ICC Prosecutor requests to postpone trial of Darfur militia leader

September 20, 2020 (KHARTOUM) -The Office of the General Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has requested to postpone the trial of Darfur militia leader Ali Kushayb to June 2021 saying they need more time to conduct further investigations.

Kushayb was arrested in the Central African Republic (CAR) and transferred to the ICC, on 9 June 2020 to become the first militia leader accused of murder and rape in Darfur held by the war crimes court.

The court issued an arrest warrant for him in 2007, accusing him of killing at least 199 murders, atrocities and rape on civilians in Darfur, and the forcing of 40,000 mainly Fur civilians from their home areas between 2003 and 2004.

In a letter on 17 September to the Pre-Trial Chambre seen by Sudan Tribune, the Prosecutor requested to postpone the date of the confirmation of charges hearing from 7 December 2020 to 1 June 2021".

Further, the prosecution requested that the Chamber extend the deadline for the submission of any applications for the authorisation of the non-disclosure of witnesses’ identities and/or the non-disclosure of entire items of evidence from 11 September 2020 to 1 March 2021"

The 21-page letter signed by the Deputy Prosecutor James Stewart said the prosecution found it would not be ready to proceed to a confirmation hearing on 7 December pointing that the case has been largely dormant for well over a decade, since 2007.

Stewart underscored the lack of cooperation of the former regime and now as they begin to build a relationship with the Sudanese transitional government the COVID19 pandemic is impeding their efforts.

Also, he said the postponement is necessary to enable the prosecution to carry out additional investigations, review all of the material in its possession and re-contact witnesses, conduct individual risk assessments, among others.

The Sudanese government in line with the peace agreement negotiated with the Darfur armed groups in Juba pledged to hand over the former President Omer al-Bashir, his former defence minister Abdel Rahim Hussein and his former deputy interior minister Ahmed Haroun to the ICC.