October 18, 2020

ICC Chief in Sudan for Historic Visit, Meets Key Suspect in Darfur War Crimes

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ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda shakes hands with General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, generally referred to as Hemetti, Hemedti, Hemeti or Hemitte, from the Rizeigat tribe in Darfur. He is currently a member of Sudan’s sovereign council

Sudan’s Prime Minster Abdalla Hamdok on Sunday promised cooperation with International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda as she gathered information on war crimes in Darfur.

“This historic visit is a testimony to the total reform of the new Sudan,” said Hamdok, who succeeded toppled autocrat Omar al-Bashir, reported AFP News Agency.

Bashir is in jail in Khartoum, but is wanted by the ICC to face charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.

The former president, who oversaw the civil war in Sudan’s western Darfur region in which 300,000 people died and 2.5 million were forced from their homes, was overthrown following mass protests that began in December 2018.

In Darfur, is a joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force called UNAMID which has a contingent of 1,131 Rwandan peacekeepers.

“Our commitment to achieving justice is not only an international one, but a direct response to deliver on the slogans of the December revolution,” Hamdok added in a statement.

No reference was made to Bashir himself, who has already been convicted at home on corruption charges and is on trial in Khartoum for the 1989 coup that brought him to power. He potentially faces the death penalty if found guilty on that charge.

However, Hamdok told the Financial Times earlier this month that he had spoken with the ICC about the option of trying Bashir in Sudan, potentially in a “hybrid court”.

State news agency SUNA said Bensouda’s visit focused on two items — discussing cooperation between the ICC and Sudan’s judiciary, and “gathering information” related to the case of Ali Kushayb.

Militia leader Kushayb, a top commander of the government-backed Janjaweed forces accused of carrying out some of the worst atrocities in Darfur, surrendered to the ICC in June, and is now in custody.

He faces trial on 53 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Bensouda, who also met Justice Minister Nasredeen Abdulbari, arrived Saturday and is in the country until Wednesday.

Two other suspects, Ahmed Haroun, the ex-governor of South Kordofan state, and Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein, a former defence minister, also face ICC charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Both are in custody in Sudan.

A fifth man wanted by the ICC, rebel leader Abdallah Banda, remains at large.

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