Sudanese leadership suspected of 51 war crimes in Darfur
On Tuesday, the International Criminal Court's prosecutor named a former Sudanese junior minister and a militia leader as suspects in war crimes and crimes against humanity in the country's Darfur region.
The prosecution document, the first details released from the court's 21-month investigation, claimed to establish a link between the Sudanese authorities and the janjaweed militias responsible for Darfur's bloodshed.
Ahmed Muhammed Harun, the former junior interior minister responsible for the western Darfur region, and a janjaweed militia leader, Ali Mohammed Ali Abd-al-Rahman, also known as Ali Kushayb, were suspected of a total of 51 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Harun and Kushayb persecuted civilians they associated with rebels. Their methods involved attack against the civilian population, murder, rape, inhumane acts, cruel treatment, unlawful imprisonment, pillaging, forcible transfer and destruction of property.
According to USA Today, in a 94-page document filed with the court's judges, Moreno-Ocampo said that Harun, head of Khartoum's "Darfur Security Desk," recruited janjaweed knowing they would commit crimes against civilians, Moreno-Ocampo.
More than 200,000 people have been killed in Darfur and 2.5 million displaced in a campaign called genocide, a term coined by the White House. In February 2003, fighting erupted when ethnic African tribesmen took up arms, complaining of decades of neglect and discrimination by the Khartoum government.
Civilian death is widely reported in the Darfur conflict. According to prosecutors, villages are attacked by the janjaweed, and sometimes with Sudanese armed forces.
According to New York-based Human Rights Watch, the evidence is welcomed, but more suspects should be identified.
Judges have the right to issue arrest warrants or summonses to appear in the Hague, to suspects after reviewing the prosecutor's evidence. If suspects are charged, tried and convicted, they face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, which does not have the death penalty.
However, the court has no police force and relies on other countries to carry out arrests. Sudan, however, does not recognize the Rome Statute jurisdiction.
Seventy missions in 17 different countries have been carried out by Moreno-Ocampo investigators. They have not been able to carry out investigations in Darfur itself due to the ongoing violence.
There was no immediate government reaction in Khartoum.
Prosecutors said the offenses occurred in four villages. The "janjaweed did not target any rebel presence within these particular towns and villages. Rather, they attacked these towns and villages based on the rationale that the tens of thousands of civilian residents in and near these towns and villages were supporters of the rebel militia."
This strategy is the justification for the mass murder, summary execution, and mass rape of civilians who were known not to be participants in any armed conflict.
The ICC's jurisdiction in Darfur has been rejected by Sudan because they are conducting their own investigatons. According to Moreno-Ocampo, Kushayb was arrested last November. Sudanese authorities described him as a "police assistant," and said he was in the custody of his own superiors for investigation into five attacks in which hundreds of people were killed. He claims that the incidents were not the same as those being probed by the ICC.