ICC issues Darfur arrest warrants for Sudan ex-interior minister, militia leader

[JURIST] The International Criminal Court [official website] has issued arrest warrants [press release; ICC Q&A] for two top suspects accused of committing war crimes in the Darfur region of Sudan, according to an announcement from the court Wednesday. Ahmad Muhammad Harun [arrest warrant, PDF], former Sudanese interior minister and current humanitarian affairs minister, faces 20 counts of crimes against humanity, including murder, rape and torture, and 22 counts of war crimes, including attacks against the civilian population, destruction of property and pillaging. Former militia leader Ali Muhammad Al Abd-Al-Rahman [arrest warrant, PDF], also known as Ali Kushayb, faces 22 counts of crimes against humanity, including deportation and torture, and 28 counts of war crimes, including intentionally directing an attack against a civilian population, pillaging, and rape.

ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] initially asked the ICC to issue summonses [JURIST report] for Harun and Kushayb in February. In its decision [PDF text] last week, the ICC concluded that there were "reasonable grounds to believe that Ahmad Harun, by virtue of his position, had knowledge of the crimes committed against the civilian population and of the methods used by the Militia/Janjaweed; and that in his public speeches Ahmad Harun not only demonstrated that he knew that the Militia/Janjaweed were attacking civilians and pillaging towns and villages, but also personally encouraging the commission of such illegal acts" and that Ali Kushayb personally planned attacks against civilians and intentionally contributed to the commission of crimes carried about by militia members under his command. The ICC concluded that there were reasonable grounds to believe that the two suspects would not voluntarily present themselves to the ICC and therefore issued arrest warrants rather than summonses. Moreno-Ocampo said Wednesday that the pre-trial chamber's decision "confirmed the strength" of the prosecution's evidence [press release], which was gathered "under very difficult circumstances." He also stressed that the ICC arrest warrants mean that "the Government of the Sudan has a legal duty to arrest Ahmad Harun and Ali Kushayb."

Ali Kushayb had been scheduled to face trial [JURIST report] in Sudan in March on charges of kidnapping, sequestration, arson and murder against civilians, but the trial was delayed [JURIST report] after he filed an appeal in the case. Sudan has repeatedly rejected the ICC's jurisdiction [JURIST report] over the Darfur situation [ICC fact sheet; ICC case materials], and if Sudan tries Kushayb on the same charges he faces at the ICC, the ICC may lose jurisdiction over the case. Moreno-Ocampo has previously said that the Sudanese investigation against Kushayb does not overlap with the ICC's case [press briefing transcript]. Kushayb has rejected the ICC's accusations [JURIST report]. AP has more.

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