Home | News    Friday 29 April 2005

Sudan says view UN list of 51 Darfur war criminals as only a guide

By MOHAMED OSMAN

KHARTOUM, Sudan, Apr 28, 2005 (AP) — Sudanese prosecutors will regard the U.N. list of 51 suspected pepetrators of Darfur atrocities as no more than a guide, the minister of justice has said, according to official media.

A man from Um Hashab village, North Darfur, gestures his burned hut, after Sudanese military bombarded the village with helicopter gunship on Thursday, August 26, 2004 (AP) .

The list of 51 names, including senior government officials, was drawn up by a U.N. panel that investigated atrocities in the west Sudan region of Darfur, where a two-year conflict has led to the death of an estimated 180,000 people and the displacement of 2 million others.

The panel reported in February that the Sudanese government and pro-government militia had committed acts of mass killing and other atrocities, and recommended the prosecution of 51 individuals. Their names have not been published.

Earlier this month, the U.N. Security Council mandated the International Criminal Court to pursue those suspected of war crimes in Darfur. The government rejected the council’s resolution, vowing it would not surrender any Sudanese citizen for trial abroad.

Justice Minister Ali Mohammed Osman Yassin decided Thursday to inform the International Criminal Court that Sudan would form its own court, headed by the chief justice, to look into alleged cases of atrocities in Darfur, the official Sudan Media Center said.

Yassin said the prosecutor of this special court would regard the list of 51 individuals as a "guide and not obligatory," the Sudan Media Center reported.

Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir, meanwhile, has reiterated Sudan will not deliver to the ICC in The Hague, Netherlands, any national indicted for war crimes.

Speaking at a meeting of the ruling National Congress Party on Wednesday night, el-Bashir said Sudan did not fear the world powers.

"Those people who tremble and spread rumors think that we fear America and its wrath, Europe and its might, the United Nations and its violations. But we tell them that he who fears God, fears no one but Him," el-Bashir said.

The Darfur conflict erupted in February 2003 when rebels took up arms against what they saw as years of state neglect and discrimination against Sudanese of African origin. The government responded with a counter-insurgency campaign in which the Arab-speaking Janjaweed militia committed wide-scale abuses against the African population.