Prosecutors for the International Criminal Court on Tuesday
named a former Sudan minister and a militia commander as the first
suspects for war crimes in the Darfur conflict.
Concluding an investigation lasting 20 months, the ICC
prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said there are reasonable grounds to
believe that the two suspects were jointly responsible for 51
counts of alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes committed
against civilians in Darfur between 2003 and 2004.
Ahmad Muhammad Harun, former Sudan Interior Minister in charge
of the western Darfur region, was allegedly in conspiracy with the
militia to carry out indiscriminate attacks against civilians in a
counterinsurgency campaign by the Sudanese government against the
According to ICC prosecutors, Harun helped recruit, fund and arm
the Arab Janjaweed militia "that would ultimately number in the
Ali Kushayb, one of the key leaders commanding thousands of
militia, was accused of victimizing the civilian populations
through mass rape, killings, torture, looting and other alleged
A pre-trial chamber of the ICC will decide whether to start
trial over the case and may issue international arrest warrants or
summonses to the suspects to appear in court.
The ICC criminal investigation was triggered after the United
Nations Security Council referred the Darfur situation to the
Hague-based court in March 2005, a decision opposed by Sudan, which
insisted on its own prosecution.
The ICC is only supposed to intervene when national courts are
unwilling or unable to act. But the ICC prosecution said their case
would be admissible because it covers more extensive allegations
than the investigations launched by Sudan.
The ICC, the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal, was
established in 1998 by a multinational treaty called Rome Statute,
which entered into force four years later and has been adopted by
The court tries persons accused of the most serious crimes of
international concern, namely genocide, crimes against humanity and
Fighting in Darfur flared in early 2003 after rebels took up
arms against the Sudanese government. The UN says some 200,000
people have died as a result of the conflict, while another 2.5
million have been forced from their homes.
(Xinhua News Agency February 28, 2007)