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Sudan, ICC prosecutor discuss options for trial of Darfur war crimes suspects

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda speaks to the media after her arrival in Khartoum on 17 October 2020 (ST photo)October 19, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - Senior government officials discussed on Monday with the visiting International Criminal Court delegation several options for prosecuting ICC suspects of Darfur war crimes.

In line with the UN Security Council’s Resolution 1593, the Sudanese transitional government has to surrender all the suspects subject to an ICC arrest warrant to the Court or take genuine measures to bring justice for the victims of heinous crimes committed in Darfur.

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and her delegation have been conducting intensive consultations in Khartoum since Sunday on how to coordinate and work to ensure that those responsible for atrocities in Darfur face justice. Also, she is looking for more evidence in the case against Ali Kushayb who surrendered to the Court in June 2020.

"We discussed with the ICC Prosecutor three options about the trial of the suspects in Darfur crimes," said the Sudanese Minister of Justice Nasr al-Din Abdel-Bari, in press statements after a meeting with Bensouda, together with Attorney General Taj-Elsir al-Hebir.

These options are to form a special court for Darfur crimes, establishing a hybrid court involving Sudan and the ICC, or transferring the suspects to The Hague, Abdel Bari further said.

"The proposals are still under consideration, and we agreed to continue discussions during the coming days, to reach a common vision that meets the rights of victims and the will of the Sudanese government in accordance with international law."

For his part, Attorney General al-Hebir stated they agreed with the International Criminal Court that the suspects could not escape justice, according to the peace agreement.

The war crimes court issued arrest warrants against former President Omer al-Bashir and two other senior officials. The three are in jail since the collapse of the brutal regime after mass protests in April 2019.

They face alleged war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity committed during the counterinsurgency campaign in Darfur region during the first years of the crisis.

The Sudanese government agreed with Darfur armed groups to hand over al-Bashir to The Hague court. The armed groups stressed that his trial by the international tribunal is a response to the demand of victims in Darfur.

In a related development, Bensouda met with the Central Darfur Governor Adib Abdel Rahman to discuss the investigations the court is conducting in the case against Kushyab.

Speaking after the meeting, she told the official news agency that they discussed ways of cooperating with the Sudanese authorities on Kushayb’s case to obtain more information and evidence as soon as possible.

Also, she met with Omer Gamar Eldin Sudan’s foreign minister to discuss coordination with the Sudanese government in the ongoing investigations carried out by the Court in Darfur.

Gamar Eldin stressed the foreign ministry’s readiness to facilitate the work of the International Criminal Court in Sudan to ensure genuine justice for the crimes committed in Darfur.