ICC Prosecutor, Sudan Officials in Talks on Accelerating Extradition of War Crime Suspects

Among those sought by the ICC is ousted president Omar al-Bashir, who is accused of masterminding a campaign that lead to the deaths of 300,000 people in Darfur

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Sudan's former president Omar Hassan al-Bashir delivers a speech during a rally in Al Fasher, northern Darfur 2009
Sudan's former president Omar Hassan al-Bashir delivers a speech during a rally in Al Fasher, northern Darfur 2009Credit: Zohra Bensemra / AP

The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor has held talks with Sudanese officials on accelerating practical steps to hand over those wanted by the court over alleged atrocities committed in Darfur in the early 2000s, two senior Sudanese government sources said on Wednesday.

Sudan's former president Omar al-Bashir, who ruled the country for 30 years until he was ousted in 2019, is among those sought by the ICC, though the sources did not mention any specific names.

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The ICC issued arrest warrants in 2009 and 2010 for Bashir, accusing him of masterminding atrocities in his campaign to crush a revolt in the western region of Darfur. Some 300,000 people were killed and 2.5 million driven from their homes.

The sovereign council, a joint military and civilian body overseeing Sudan's transition towards democracy, confirmed in a statement that ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan was in Khartoum for talks but made no comment on what was agreed.

It quoted Khan as saying: "We will accomplish our mission in order to achieve the expectations of the international community, especially with regard to Security Council resolutions to achieve justice towards the heroes of Darfur, the victims and the living, who are hungry to achieve justice."

A woman riding a donkey loaded with water jerrycans in Khor Abeche, South DarfurCredit: Albert Gonzalez Farran / AFP

Sudan's cabinet has already agreed to join the ICC and hand over those wanted by the court, but the decision also needs the approval of the sovereign council.

Another of the key people accused of war crimes and genocide in Darfur, Ahmed Haroun, said in May he would prefer to be tried by the ICC rather than by what he said were biased Sudanese courts.

Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein, a former interior minister, is also wanted by the ICC on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain, former leader of the Justice and Equality movement, one of two significant armed groups in Darfur that signed a peace deal with the transitional authorities last year, also faces war crimes charges.

Ali Kushayb, another Bashir ally, surrendered to the ICC in the Central African Republic in June last year.

A girl holds up a handwritten banner as she waits for the arrival of a African Union in Forog, north DarfurCredit: Albert Gonzalez Farran / Reuters

Bashir, Haroun and Hussein are currently imprisoned in Sudan. Nourain is at large.

ICC registry spokesman Fadi El Abdallah could not comment on Wednesday's talks in Khartoum and referred further questions to Khan's office. Spokespeople for Khan, who took the job in June, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Khan, who will visit Darfur in November and submit a report on progress there to the UN Security Council, is expected to hold a news conference in Khartoum on Thursday.

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