International Criminal Law Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda called on Wednesday Khartoum to expedite the trial of ousted President Omar Al-Bashir (75) before the Sudanese judiciary or extradite him to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to be tried on charges of crimes in Darfur (west).
This came in a UN Security Council session during which representatives of member states heard Bensouda’s statements about arrest warrants issued by the Court against five former senior Sudanese officials, including Al-Bashir, who are suspected of committing war crimes and other crimes against humanity, as well as genocide.
On 11 April, the Sudanese army leadership overthrew Al-Bashir from the presidency (1989-2019), under the pressure of widespread protests that erupted late last year, denouncing the deteriorating economic situation in the country.
In the first trial since his overthrow, a Sudanese court convicted Al-Bashir last Saturday on charges of financial corruption. It ruled that he be placed for two years in a social reform institution rather than a prison due to his age.
“For Sudan today to unequivocally demonstrate its commitment to achieving the long-awaited justice for the Darfur victims, it must ensure that the five accused people, namely Omar Al-Bashir, Abdel Rahim Mohammed Hussein and Ahmed Harun, who are held in Khartoum, as well as Ali Kushayb and Abdallah Banda, whose whereabouts are unknown, be tried, whether before the court in Sudan or the ICC in The Hague,” said Bensouda.
She continued: “It is true that the primary responsibility for bringing the perpetrators of these crimes to justice lies mainly on the states, but the jurisdiction of the ICC is carried out if the states are not interested, unwilling or unable to exercise this duty.”
“My office has no specific information indicating that the suspects in the Darfur file are currently under investigation or prosecution at the local level,” added Bensouda.
The ICC had issued two arrest warrants against Al-Bashir, in 2009 and 2010, on charges relating to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, during the government forces’ counterattack of an armed rebellion in Darfur since 2003.