ICC seeks UN council aid on Sudan arrests

Fri Jun 11, 2010 5:32am GMT
 

By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said on Thursday that he will ask the U.N. Security Council this week to order Sudan to hand over two men indicted for war crimes in Darfur.

The Hague-based court issued international warrants in 2007 for the arrest of Ahmed Haroun, a provincial governor and former state minister of humanitarian affairs, and a militia leader known as Ali Kushayb for helping to organize mass killings and deportations in Sudan's western Darfur region.

"What we need now is to declare that the Security Council will ensure their arrest," ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told Reuters. "Monday is a good opportunity."

The council will discuss Sudan on Monday. In his six-month report to the council on Friday, Moreno-Ocampo said he would brief the 15 members on a recent ICC decision that the Khartoum government is protecting Haroun and Kushayb.

"We know where Haroun is," he said. "Normally fugitives from justice are in hiding. In this case, Ahmed Haroun is the governor of South Kordofan."

Some Western diplomats have suggested that Haroun's presence in South Kordofan, a province that includes the contested oil-rich town of Abyei that straddles the North-South border, was a cause for concern. The ICC prosecutor agrees.

"The fact that Ahmed Haroun is in Kordofan is not a good sign," Moreno-Ocampo said. "His career is basically attacking civilians."

In March 2009, the ICC announced a third indictment for war crimes in Darfur against Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. Moreno-Ocampo said his new request to the Security Council to put pressure on Khartoum to comply with the arrest warrants would focus on Haroun and Kushayb.

RAPING, KILLING CONTINUES

But Moreno-Ocampo made clear he was not taking his eyes off Bashir, who rejects accusations that he, Haroun and Kushayb are war criminals. Khartoum has refused to cooperate with the ICC.

Khartoum's U.N. envoy told Reuters that he rejected both Moreno-Ocampo's remarks and his overall approach to Sudan.

"The choice is between following Ocampo's politically motivated and destructive adventures or to lend the council's focus and support to the Darfur peace process currently underway in Doha and implementation" of the north-south peace agreement, Ambassador Abdalmahmoud Abdalhaleem said.

North and south Sudan, whose conflict is separate from the violence in Darfur, have had a troubled relationship since signing a peace deal in 2005 to end two decades of civil war.

Moreno-Ocampo declined to predict whether or not the council would heed his call for a show of support in his crusade to apprehend the indicted men.

The ICC accuses Haroun of recruiting and arming 'Janjaweed' militias in Darfur while working at the Interior Ministry, and of having full knowledge of their alleged atrocities against civilians.

U.N. officials say as many as 300,000 people have died and over 2.7 million driven from their homes in seven years of ethnic and politically motivated violence in Darfur, a remote region of Western Sudan. Khartoum says 10,000 have died.

U.N. officials and analysts say that the United States and other Western powers are now focusing less on Darfur and more on the Sudan's north-south tensions ahead of a January 9, 2011 referendum on independence in semi-autonomous southern Sudan.

Moreno-Ocampo said that Darfur should not be forgotten, since the raping and killing continues.

<p>Internally displaced people chat while using handmade bricks to build their shelter at Abu Shouk IDP's camp in Al Fasher, northern Darfur April 14, 2010. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra</p>
 
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