CAIRO – The International Criminal Court prosecutor on Sunday urged the transitional government of Sudan to hand over suspects wanted for war crimes and genocide in the conflict in Darfur, the official Sudanese news agency reported.
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda arrived in Sudan’s West Darfur region on Saturday to meet with authorities and affected communities in the region, the court said. Bensouda said she was inspired by the “resilience and courage” of the people of Darfur.
Among those wanted by the international court is former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who has been in prison in Khartoum since his ouster in April 2019 and faces several trials in Sudanese courts linked to his three decades of authoritarian rule. .
Conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region erupted when rebels from the territory’s Central and Sub-Saharan African ethnic community launched an insurgency in 2003, complaining about the oppression of the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum.
Al-Bashir’s government has responded with a campaign of airstrikes and raids by militias known as the Janjaweed, who are accused of massacres and rapes. Up to 300,000 people were killed and 2.7 million were driven from their homes.
The ICC has charged al-Bashir with war crimes and genocide for allegedly orchestrating the campaign of attacks in Darfur. Sudanese prosecutors launched their own investigation into the conflict in Darfur last year.
Also indicted by the court are two other senior officials of al-Bashir’s reign: Abdel-Rahim Muhammad Hussein, Minister of the Interior and Defense during much of the conflict, and Ahmed Haroun, a security chief in then and later the leader of Bashir’s ruling al-Party. Hussein and Haroun have both been under arrest in Khartoum since the Sudanese army, under pressure from protesters, ousted al-Bashir in April 2019.
The court also indicted rebel leader Abdulla Banda, whose whereabouts are unknown, and leader Janjaweed Ali Kushayb, who was indicted last week with crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Bensouda and his team met with the Governor of Darfur, Mini Arko Minawi on Saturday, who said the prosecutor’s main concern was to hand over those wanted by the court as quickly as possible and to speed up Haroun’s transfer since his case is linked. to that of Kushayb. .
In a Sunday meeting with officials in North Darfur province, the ICC prosecutor said they would continue to demand from the government the surrender of all those wanted by the court, SUNA reported.
Sudan’s transitional government, which has pledged democratic reforms and is led by a mix of civilian and military leaders, has previously said war crimes suspects, including al-Bashir, will be tried before the ICC, but the Place of trial is a matter of negotiation with the Hague-based Tribunal.