Sudan appears ready to hand over Ex-leader to ICC

A former Sudanese militia commander, Ali Kushayb, is already in The Hague to stand trial on dozens of charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur.

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Sudan’s civilian Cabinet has resolved to turn former President Omar al-Bashir and other ex-officials over to the International Criminal Court to face multiple charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, according to a statement obtained by VOA from the Sudan News Agency.   

Sudan Foreign Affairs Minister Mariam Sadiq al-Mahdi made the commitment to ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan during her meeting with him in Khartoum on Tuesday, according to the statement. 

The “cabinet decided to hand over wanted officials to the ICC,” Mahdi was quoted as saying by the state-run media.

Several news organizations, including AFP and CNN, reported that the handover to the court will take place, but no timetable was reported. 

Reuters reported that the ICC’s Khan held talks with Sudanese officials on accelerating practical steps to hand over those wanted by the court because of alleged atrocities committed in Darfur in the early 2000s, according to two senior Sudanese government sources.

Former President Bashir, who ruled the country for 30 years until he was ousted in 2019, is among those sought by the ICC. 

The ICC issued arrest warrants in 2009 and 2010 for Bashir, accusing him of masterminding atrocities in his campaign to crush a revolt in the western region of Darfur.    

On August 3, Sudan’s civilian Cabinet passed a bill for the country to join the Rome Statute — the founding treaty of the ICC — pending a joint meeting of Sudan’s ruling Sovereign Council and the civilian Cabinet. 

The joint meeting must then pass the bill into law. While passage of the bill allows Sudan to become party to the ICC process, it remained unclear Wednesday when the handover of Bashir to the court would take place. 

Sudan Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok tweeted on his official page after the August 3 meeting that “justice and accountability are a solid foundation of the new rule of law-based Sudan,” assuring his followers that the bill would be passed into law. 

ICC chief prosecutor Khan met in recent days with senior officials on Sudan’s Sovereign Council and Council of Ministers to seek cooperation in achieving justice for Darfur war victims.   

The Sudan News Agency reported Wednesday that Khan urged Sudan’s transitional government to speed up the process of setting up an ICC office in Sudan to facilitate the gathering of evidence for the trials of the indicted individuals.     

A former Sudanese militia commander, Ali Kushayb, is already in The Hague to stand trial on dozens of charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur.   

Ahmed Haroun, another key person accused of war crimes and genocide in Darfur, said in May he would prefer to be tried by the ICC rather than by what he said were biased Sudanese courts. 

Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein, a former defense minister, is also wanted by the ICC on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes. 

Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain, former leader of the Justice and Equality Movement, one of two significant armed groups in Darfur that signed a peace deal with the transitional authorities last year, also faces war crimes charges.