Sudan militia chief denies war crimes across Darfur, court says

Sudan, Africa: An ex-Sudanese militia chief oversaw murder, rape and torture in the whole of Darfur; this was heard on Tuesday in International Criminal Court, as the first visit to court in the region got underway.

Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman, a supporter of ousted Sudanese strongman Omar Al-Bashir, is charged with 31 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in the conflict nearly two decades ago.

Advertisement

His visit to the court is the first visit before the Hague-based ICC for crimes in Darfur, and around 30,000 people were killed, and nearly two and half million people became refugees, as per the latest reports of the UN.

As the world’s eyes turn to potential war crimes committed in Ukraine, it comes as the world’s eyes turn to possible war crimes.

According to ICC’s chief prosecutor ”Karim Khan”, “You will hear evidence that he (Abd-Al-Rahman) and his forces revolted across different parts of Darfur.”

Khan imposed extreme pain and suffering on women, children, and men in the villages that he left in his wake.

Abd-Al-Rahman, 72, a senior commander of the Janjaweed militia — an infamous armed group made by the Sudanese government — claimed not guilty after the historic trial opened.

Abd-Al-Rahman told judges at ICC that he was rejecting all the charges. I am innocent of all these charges, and the court was set up in 2002 to try the worst crimes globally.

Advertisement

Abd-Al-Rahman wore a dark blue suit with a light blue shirt and fiddled with his maroon tie, and he sat motionless as he read the 31 counts of war times, crime against humanity allegedly committed in 2–3-04.

The long charge sheet describes murder, rape, torture, and pillaging acts.

War broke out in Darfur when black African insurgents, complaining of systematic bias, took up arms against Bashir’s Arab-dominated regime.

Khartoum retaliated by unleashing the Janjaweed, a force drawn from the nomadic tribes of the region.

The Right group described it as a deliberate campaign of ethnic cleansing targetting the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups.

Nearly 15 years back in April, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Abd-Al-Rahman, also known as the nom de guerre of Ali Kushayb.

When the new Sudanese government announced its intention to cooperate with the ICC investigation in February 2020, he fled to the Central African Republic.

Four months later, he resigned voluntarily.

Abd-Al-Rahman’sAbd-Al-Rahman’s trial is the first-ever originating from a UN Security Council referral.

The ICC is still seeking former president Omar Al-Bashir and three others for crimes in Darfur.

Bashir has remained in Sudan since his removal in 2019, despite calls for him and two other associates to be handed over to the ICC for prosecution.

Asked about efforts to get Bashir to The Hague to stand trial, Khan stated negotiations with Khartoum’sKhartoum’s military government continued, but “cooperation is challenging.”

Furthermore, Khan stated that the situation has improved, but I really wanted to close this situation.

“But I can’t do that unless we move forward… and that will be made much easier with ever… deeper cooperation with the Sudanese government.”

Prosecutors stated that Abd-Al-Rahman, who carried the title of “colonel of colonels” in the Janjaweed, played a significant role in a series of attacks on at least four villages in West Darfur.

He was charged with directing the attacks, mobilizing, recruiting, arming and supplying to Janjaweed militia under his command.

Abd-Al-Rahman “took pride in the power that he thought he exercised… and a strange glee in his feared reputation,” Khan told the judges.

Following one such attack on a village in late February and early March 2002, 100 Fur men, including community leaders, doctors, and teachers, were taken to a police station in Mukjar, interrogated and tortured.

Prosecutors said that fifty detainees were driven out into the countryside, told to lie face down, and then executed.

Victims of the Darfur conflict, who are still languishing in refugee camps today, expressed relief that justice was finally being served.

But Adam Musa, speaking from the sprawling Kalma refugee camp in Darfur, stated: “I was surprised to hear that Kushayb rejected the charges of killing our people.”

Musa further stated, “I was the eyewitness and saw how he took away men from our village, and none of them came back.”