SUDAN WATCH: Darfur militia leader, Ali Mohamed Ali Abdel-Rahman aka Ali Kushayb, will be tried in Sudan’s courts - Sudan may dismiss Ahmed Haroun

Monday, October 13, 2008

Darfur militia leader, Ali Mohamed Ali Abdel-Rahman aka Ali Kushayb, will be tried in Sudan’s courts - Sudan may dismiss Ahmed Haroun

A Sudanese militia leader wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged war crimes in Darfur is in custody, a minister has confirmed.

The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Ali Mohamed Ali Abdel-Rahman - known as Ali Kushayb - in February last year.

Sudanese Justice Minister Abdel Basit Sabderat said an investigation into alleged crimes committed by Ali Kushayb was now drawing to an end.

Ali Kushayb was arrested several months ago, the minister said.

Full story by BBC Mon 13 Oct 2008 - Darfur militia leader in custody.

Related reports

Mon 13 Oct 2008 Sudan Tribune report - Sudan detains militia leader wanted by ICC in preparation for trial - copy:
Oct 12, 2008 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese government revealed today that a militia leader wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) has been detained and will stand trial for his alleged role in Darfur war crimes.

The Sudanese justice minister Abdel-Basit Sabdarat told the Associated Press from Cairo that militia commander Ali Mohamed Ali Abdel-Rahman, also know as Ali Kushayb “is in government custody”.

“Kushayb will be tried in Sudan’s domestic courts. He is under investigation. He will be held accountable” Sabdarat said.

The move come almost three months after the ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo announced in mid-July that he requested an arrest warrant against Sudanese president Omar Hassan Al-Bashir.

Following that Sudan has been looking into ways that would allow it to avoid confrontation with the international community over the ICC through conducting trials for lesser suspects.

The judges of the ICC issued arrest warrants last year for Kushayb and Ahmed Haroun, state minister for humanitarian affairs on 51 counts of alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes. But Khartoum has so far refused to hand them over.

Khartoum had long claimed that Kushayb was in custody since November 2006 for investigations into allegations of violations he committed during the peak of the Darfur conflict in 2004.

Sudan’s former Justice Minister Mohamed Ali al-Mardi told a news conference in Khartoum in February 2007 that “Ali Kushayb, along with two other individuals, was sent for trial. He was detained as a suspect, questioned, his statements were evaluated and witness statements recorded, and then the decision was taken to refer him to court”.

But in March 2007 Kushayb’s trial was delayed when the defendants filed an appeal with the Justice ministry after which Abu-Zeid told reporters that Kushayb’s appeal was denied that there is “sufficient evidence to proceed with the case”.

Shortly afterwards the Sudanese justice ministry ordered a ban on publishing reports or details relating to criminal cases on Darfur conflict and many observers at the time voiced skepticism over Khartoum’s seriousness to try perpetrators of crimes in the war ravaged region.

In October 2007 Sudan’s former foreign minister Lam Akol told the pro-government daily Al-Rayaam from New York that Kushayb was freed “due to lack of incriminating evidence against him”.

However Al-Mardi issued a quick denial to the Al-Rayaam report describing it as “false” without directly commenting on Akol’s statements.

The former Justice Minister was asked again by Al-Rayaam last November on the whereabouts of Kushayb and he reiterated that the militia leader was “never released” before saying that he refrained from commenting on the issue “because it is under investigation”.

In April the spokesman for the Sudanese embassy in London, Khalid Al-Mubarak was quoted by Voice of America (VOA) as saying that Haroun and Kushayb were not prosecuted “because there is no evidence against them”.

Again in June Amin Hassan Omar, a leading figure in the National Congress Party (NCP) and a state minister also confirmed Kushayb’s release.

Sabdarat did not say on what charges will Kushayb be prosecuted despite earlier assertions that he has been cleared from any wrongdoings.

The ICC Statute prevents investigation into crimes that were looked into by local judiciary under the concept of “complementarity”.

Sudan must prosecute Haroun and Kushayb for the same accusations brought against them by the ICC in order for the latter to lose jurisdiction over their cases.

Sudan has not ratified the Rome Statute, but the UN Security Council (UNSC) triggered the provisions under the Statute that enables it to refer situations in non-State parties to the world court if it deems that it is a threat to international peace and security. (ST)
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Mon 13 Oct 2008 Sudan Tribune report by Wasil Ali - Sudan offered to remove minister accused of war crimes: diplomat - copy:
October 12, 2008 (WASHINGTON) – The Sudanese government told French officials that they are willing to remove a minister wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), a senior European diplomat told Sudan Tribune.

The diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity said that the proposal was made during a visit by a Sudanese delegation last week to Paris headed by senior Sudanese presidential adviser Nafi Ali Nafi.

Nafi met with French officials including foreign minister Bernard Kouchner, Claude Guéant, the secretary general of the French Presidency and the presidential adviser for African Affairs Bruno Joubert.

French officials have said that it is “unacceptable” that an individual indicted of war crimes to be part of the Sudanese cabinet.

According to the diplomat the delegation told French officials that they could possibly dismiss Ahmed Haroun, state minister for humanitarian affairs and investigate his alleged role in Darfur war crimes.

Sudanese officials insisted however, that any prosecution of Haroun is contingent upon coming up with evidence implicating him. They further said they will not cooperate with the ICC in conducting national proceedings as demanded by Paris.

In a surprise move the Sudanese justice minister Abdel-Basit Sabdarat told the Associated Press from Cairo today that militia commander Ali Mohamed Ali Abdel-Rahman, also know as Ali Kushayb “is in government custody”.

“Kushayb will be tried in Sudan’s domestic courts. He is under investigation. He will be held accountable” Sabdarat said.

The judges of the ICC issued arrest warrants last year for Kushayb and Haroun on 51 counts of alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes. But Khartoum has so far refused to hand them over.

Sabdarat did not say on what charges will Kushayb be prosecuted despite earlier assertions that he has been cleared from any wrongdoings.

Khartoum has been lobbying world countries to freeze a move by the ICC to indict president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir.

In mid-July the ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo announced that he is seeking an arrest warrant for Al-Bashir.

The ICC’s prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo filed 10 charges: three counts of genocide, five of crimes against humanity and two of murder. In early October ICC judges have officially started reviewing the case in a process that could possibly drag on to next year.

Sudan and a number of regional organizations including the African Union (AU), Arab League, Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) condemned Ocampo’s request and called on the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution deferring Al-Bashir’s indictment.

But the UNSC has been divided on the issue particularly the Western countries on the council hesitant to support such a move.

France has been the only country to publicly offer Sudan a suspension of charges in return for concessions on the ground with regard to the Darfur crisis and relations with neighboring Chad.

The French president Nicolas Sarkozy speaking in New York during the UN General Assembly meetings last month made it clear that his country will not support a deferral resolution unless certain conditions are met.

“France wants the Sudanese authorities to radically change their policies. It is now up to Mr. Al-Bashir to determine what exactly he wants” Sarkozy said.

“We want to deploy the international force in Darfur to stop the scandalous situation in which tens of thousands are dying in this part of Africa. We want peace in Sudan as well as peace and the territorial integrity of Chad… people in Darfur have the right to live and we cannot accept the situation as it is currently” he added.

Sarkozy warned Sudan that France wants to see concrete steps taken before it would support a suspension of ICC move.

“There would be no recourse to invoking Article 16 unless there is radical and immediate change in Sudanese policies” he said.

“If Sudanese authorities do change; totally change their policies then France would not be opposed to using Article 16” the French president added.

But the visiting Sudanese delegation failed to reach an agreement with France on conditions needed to invoke an Article 16 resolution in the UNSC.

Khartoum has recently appeared increasingly resigned to the fact that they will not be able to convince Western powers on the UNSC to drop their opposition to a deferral.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met briefly with Sudan 2nd VP Ali Osman Taha in New York last month where they discussed the ICC row. The Sudanese official inquired on what is needed to lift Washington’s oppistion to Article 16 resolution.

Rice provided Taha with a list of conditions including facilitating the deployment of African Union-United forces in Darfur (UNAMID), lifting restrictions on aid workers and reaching an understanding with all opposition forces.

The US top diplomat said that Washington wants to see progress made on these benchmarks within a specific timeframe that expires mid-December.

Only then will the US be willing to discuss a deferral of Al-Bashir’s indictment with Sudan, Rice told Taha.

The Sudanese VP contested that the UN is the party to blame in the delay of UNAMID deplyment. Rice agreed with Taha on this but said that the US will fill the gaps and offered to airlift peacekeepers into Darfur.

The US Secretary of State also said that Washington is working with its allies to secure the helicopters for UNAMID.

Last month US special envoy to Sudan Richard Williamson told the US Commission on International Religious Freedom that Washington will veto any Article 16 resolution introduced in the UNSC.

“If asked—if forced to vote today—the United States, even if it was 191 countries against one, would veto an Article 16 [resolution],” Ambassador Richard Williamson said.

The US is not a party to the ICC and has remained hostile to it. Washington had threatened to veto resolution 1593 referring Darfur case to the ICC adopted in March 2005 but eventually bent down to domestic and international pressure and abstained from voting.

The US has recently showed signs of warming up to the court despite its long standing fears that it may be used to bring frivolous cases against its troops. (ST)

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