Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sudanese Rebel Leaders Face War Crimes Charges

By Colum Lynch

UNITED NATIONS, May 17--The International Criminal Court's pre-trial judges have summoned three Sudanese rebel leaders to appear before the Hague-based tribunal to face charges of ordering a deadly attack more than 18 months ago against African Union peacekeepers in Darfur, according to diplomats and court officials.

It is the first time that Darfur's rebels have been charged with war crimes since the court opened its investigation into mass violence in Darfur in 2005. Until now, the court has focused primarily on the Sudanese government's role in atrocities, issuing arrest warrants for Sudan's President, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, a top aide, and an allied militia leader.

The charges stem from a September, 29, 2007, raid on an African Union compound in the town of Haskanita, Darfur, where rebel commanders allegedly killed 12 peacekeepers and seriously wounded 8 more.

Various rebel factions have denied responsibility for the raid. But at least one of the accused commanders, Bahar Idris Abu Garda, the leader of a rebel splinter faction, the United Resistance Front, has agreed to defend himself. He is scheduled to arrive in the Hague, Netherlands, on Sunday and to appear before the court on Monday.

The prosecutor accused Garda and two other unidentified commanders in November of leading a heavily armed force of more than 1,000 rebel troops against an outnumbered contingent of Senegalese, Malian and Botswanan peacekeepers. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>

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