Tags: International Court | Darfur

Alleged Darfur Militia Leader Appears before ICC Judge

Alleged Darfur Militia Leader Appears before ICC Judge

Monday, 15 June 2020 07:39 AM

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — An alleged Sudanese militia leader charged with more than 50 crimes against humanity and war crimes in the Darfur conflict appeared Monday before a judge at the International Criminal Court for the first time since his transfer to the court last week and said the charges against him were “untrue.”

Coronavirus restrictions meant that the suspect, Ali Mohammed Ali Abdul Rahman Ali, known as Ali Kushayb, appeared via a video link from the court's detention center near The Hague's North Sea coastline.

When the judge, Rosario Salvatore Aitala, asked Kushayb if he had been informed of the charges against him, he replied, speaking through an interpreter: “Yes, I was informed of that, but this is untrue.” He wasn't required to enter pleas to the charges at the preliminary hearing.

Kushayb was flown to the court last week, more than 13 years after judges issued an international arrest warrant for him. He earlier surrendered to authorities in a remote corner of northern Central African Republic, near the country’s border with Sudan.

In the Darfur conflict, rebels from the territory’s ethnic central and sub-Saharan African community launched an insurgency in 2003, complaining of oppression by the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum.

The government responded with a scorched-earth assault of aerial bombings and unleashed militias known as the Janjaweed, who are accused of mass killings and rapes. Up to 300,000 people were killed and 2.7 million were driven from their homes. Prosecutors say Kushayb was a senior Janjaweed leader.

According to the ICC’s arrest warrant, Kushayb is accused of commanding thousands of Janjaweed militia back in 2003-2004 and acting as a go-between for the militia and Sudanese government. The ICC says he “personally participated in some of the attacks against civilians” and allegedly “enlisted fighters, armed, funded and provided food and other supplies to the Janjaweed militia under his command.”

Among offenses listed on his arrest warrant are murder, rape, persecution and pillage. He initially was charged with 50 offenses, but judges subsequently added two new murder charges linked to the alleged slaying of about 100 civilians in early March 2004 and a charge of inhumane acts committed around the same time. He faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment if convicted.

A court official read out all the charges during the hearing that lasted just over an hour and Judge Aitala read Kushayb his rights.

Aitala said that the next major step in the case, a hearing at which prosecutors attempt to persuade judges that they have enough evidence to merit sending the case to a trial, will be held on Dec. 7.

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An alleged Sudanese militia leader charged with more than 50 crimes against humanity and war crimes in the Darfur conflict appeared Monday before a judge at the International Criminal Court for the first time since his transfer to the court last week and said the charges...
International Court,Darfur
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2020-39-15
Monday, 15 June 2020 07:39 AM
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