KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan could send former leader Omar al-Bashir and other suspects to The Hague for trial before the International Criminal Court, but any decision would need approval from military and civilian rulers, the information minister said on Monday.
Sudanese authorities said last week that they had agreed for Bashir and three other suspects to appear before the ICC, without giving details of how this could happen.
“One possibility is that the ICC will come here so they will be appearing before the ICC in Khartoum, or there will be a hybrid court maybe, or maybe they are going to transfer them to The Hague...That will be discussed with the ICC,” Information Minister Faisal Salih told Reuters.
Sudan’s offer to cooperate with the ICC marks an important step in rebuilding relations with the international community after three decades during which the country was isolated and sanctioned for its links with Islamist militants and the violence in Darfur.
Bashir, who has been jailed in Khartoum since he was toppled after mass protests last year, is wanted by the ICC for alleged war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity in Sudan’s troubled Darfur region.
Bashir’s lawyer has said the ex-president refused any dealings with the ICC because it was a “political court”.
The different options for the ICC proceedings would be discussed with an ICC delegation that was expected to visit Khartoum, Salih said.
He said he thought any decision would need approval by Sudan’s High Peace Council, which includes the military-led Sovereign Council, senior cabinet members, and representatives of political groups that opposed Bashir.
The High Peace Council had agreed to the appearance of the suspects before the ICC before its decision was announced last week at peace talks in Juba, South Sudan, Salih said.
The transitional government is also trying to get Sudan removed from a list of countries the United States considers state sponsors of terrorism. Sudan was placed on the list in 1993.
Though U.S. sanctions on Sudan were lifted in 2017, the listing has hampered commercial transactions and international payments and prevents Sudan from negotiating a settlement over its debt and thereby accessing sorely needed funds from international financial institutions.
One of the conditions for removing Sudan from the list was offering compensation for the victims of the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole warship. Sudan said last week it had agreed to do that.
Another condition is paying compensation to the families of victims killed in attacks on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.
“The minister of justice thinks that in a very short time we are going to have an agreement with those families,” Salih said.
Other outstanding issues being discussed with the United States include reform of the security sector, making progress in the peace process in Juba with rebel factions from Darfur and other regions, and Sudan’s relationship with North Korea.
“There is some progress being made on this, but we are still waiting for a positive response from the Americans,” Salih said.
Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Hugh Lawson