/ 5 June 2008

ICC prosecutor to seek Darfur indictments in July

Accusing Sudan’s ”entire state apparatus” of involvement in crimes in Darfur, the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor said on Thursday he would seek new indictments next month against senior Khartoum officials.

Judges at the ICC, set up in 2002 in the Hague as the world’s first permanent court to try individuals for war crimes, issued arrest warrants for two Sudanese suspects in April last year, but Khartoum has refused to hand them over.

In an address to the United Nations Security Council, prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said Sudan was not cooperating with the ICC and was taking no action of its own against the two, government minister Ahmad Harun and militia commander Ali Kushayb.

Instead, he said, Sudanese officials had waged an ”organised campaign … to attack civilians” in Darfur, western Sudan, where at least 200 000 people are estimated to have died and 2,5-million displaced since a rebellion erupted in 2003.

”The evidence shows that the commission of such crimes on such a scale, over a period of five years, and throughout Darfur, has required the sustained mobilisation of the entire Sudanese state apparatus,” Moreno-Ocampo said.

The prosecutor said that in July he would present ICC judges with evidence ”on who are those most responsible for the crimes described”.

Previous cases showed that the judges took between one and three months to decide on whether to issue indictments, he said.

Moreno-Ocampo, who had announced in the Hague last week his intention to take action but without giving a timetable, did not name any officials whose indictment he would seek.

Sudan has already reacted angrily to the prospect of further indictments. Its UN ambassador accused Moreno-Ocampo on Wednesday of preparing a ”fictitious and vicious case” that would wreck the peace process for Darfur, where the United Nations and African Union are deploying peacekeepers.

Sudan says it is not a party to the ICC and has no intention of handing over Harun and Kushayb. But the ICC says Sudan is bound by Security Council resolution 1593 of 2005, which demanded that Khartoum cooperate fully with the court.

Much of Moreno-Ocampo’s speech and a separate written report to the council consisted of allegations of killing, looting, rape and land usurpation in Darfur that he blamed on Sudanese officials in collaboration with the feared Janjaweed militia.

”The entire Darfur region is a crime scene,” he said. – Reuters 2008