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ICC to decide in Feb 2021 if trial of Darfur militia leader to proceed

November 6, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - The Pre-Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) will decide next February whether accusations of crimes against humanity against Ali Kushayb are strong enough for a full trial.

Last September, the ICC prosecutor office had requested to postpone the trial of the militia leader to June 2021 saying they need more time to conduct further investigations from 7 December 2020 to 1 June 2021.

Also, the prosecution requested to 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"

In a decision taken on 2 November, the Pre-trial Chamber II "considered it appropriate to postpone the confirmation of charges hearing to 22 February 2021".

The chamber said its decision took into account the overall fairness and expeditiousness of the proceedings, the rights of the suspect, the protection of victims, witnesses and other persons at risk and the circumstances of the case.

The Chamber also set a number of deadlines for the disclosure of evidence by the Prosecutor.

Last September, the prosecutor office said they need more time to carry out additional investigations, review all of the material in its possession and re-contact witnesses, conduct individual risk assessments, among others.

During the former regime, the prosecution had no direct access to areas of attacks and affected civilians due to the lack of cooperation.

Following a visit to Khartoum from 17 to 21 October, Fatou Bensouda, the ICC Prosecutor agreed with the Sudanese officials to send investigation teams to Darfur to collect more evidence and contact witnesses.

Kushayb faces 53 counts on the basis of his individual criminal responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the western Sudan region of Darfur.

He was transferred to the ICC’s custody on 9 June 2020, after surrendering himself voluntarily in the Central African Republic. His initial appearance before the ICC took place on 15 June 2020.

(ST)