Home | News    Tuesday 7 June 2005

Sudan won’t confront Security Council on ICC probe

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NEW DELHI, June 7 (Reuters) - Sudan said on Tuesday it would handle investigations into suspected crimes in Sudan’s Darfur region on its own but would not confront the U.N. Security Council on the International Criminal Court’s inquiry.

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Mustafa Ismail

The ICC on Monday formally launched an investigation into suspected war crimes in Darfur, where tens of thousands have been killed during more than two years of rebellion. Government-allied Arab militias are accused of a widespread campaign of rape, killing and pillaging.

The Sudanese government has said it will refuse to send any citizen to a court outside its territory.

"For us the (ICC) statement and the steps which are now going on are still preliminary. They are procedural and technical steps," Sudan’s foreign minister, Mustafa Osman Ismail, told reporters during a visit to the Indian capital.

"We will study it carefully and it is not part of our agenda to confront the Security Council. Our understanding is still that the Rome statute will allow space that the government of Sudan could do its job within the framework of the Security Council."

"Our legal adviser also said that the resolutions could be executed within the understanding of the Sudan legal system."

The U.N. Security Council says Sudan has done little to bring those responsible to justice. It has instructed the ICC to begin an investigation, the court’s first such referral.

The Rome statute which established the ICC states that any suspected criminal tried in a credible and fair national court may not be sent to the ICC, which sits in The Hague.

However, a U.N.-appointed committee into alleged war crimes in Darfur has said it does not think Sudan’s judicial system is capable of holding credible trials.

In April, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan gave the ICC a sealed list of 51 people suspected of slaughter, rape and pillage, believed to include top Sudanese government and army officials, militia leaders and rebel and foreign commanders.

Sudanese officials have ruled out handing over the country’s citizens for trial in a foreign court, saying Sudan will prosecute war crimes suspects itself. It says it has already arrested members of the military and security forces for trial.

"We have not been asked to hand anyone. Our position is that no one should be exempt, anyone who commits crimes in Darfur should be brought to justice and should have to have the necessary punishment," Ismail said.

"We are on our way to establish a special court, with special procedures, inside Sudan, to do such things."

(Additional reporting by Hamir Sahni)

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