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Sudanese ICC suspect says inspired by Saddam

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Feb 28, 2007 (KHARTOUM) — A Sudanese official named as a possible Darfur war criminal said he drew inspiration from the example of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein at his execution in Baghdad in December.

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Ahmed Mohamed Haroun

On Tuesday the International Criminal Court named the official, minister of state for humanitarian affairs Ahmed Mohammed Haroun, and the Sudanese newspaper Akhbar al-Youm published the interview with him on Wednesday.

Asked how he felt about the case, Haroun said: "I don’t know why I recall the footage of Saddam’s execution when the whole world saw him take strong confident steps towards the gallows.

"The late Saddam on that day was more steadfast than his executioners. God willing, we are capable of taking such steadfast attitudes, which will shake the Muslim and Arab world."

Haroun said he heard the news that the court had named him while he was at the airport in the Jordanian capital Amman. His colleagues said on Tuesday he was in Jordan for medical treatment and would be back at his office on Wednesday.

The minister, who is suspected of war crimes in Darfur while he was minister of state in the Interior Ministry, defended his work in the troubled region of western Sudan, where tens of thousands of people have been killed since 2003.

"The police operation that took place in Darfur, with the deployment of thousands of policemen, remains one of the greatest operations ever by the Sudanese police," he said.

The aim was to secure areas populated by the Fur people, who give their name to the region. "(That is) contrary to the prosecutor’s claim that we incited what are referred to as the Janjaweed against our kin the Fur," he added.

The Janjaweed are the mainly Arab militias accused of carrying out much of the violence in Darfur. Rights groups say they had government support but Khartoum denies this.

Haroun said the police operation succeeded in attracting displaced people to camps around towns controlled by the government, whereas there are no camps in rebel-held areas.

"It’s impossible for those terrorised and fearful of war to ... seek security from their tormentors," he added.

The Sudanese government says the root cause of the violence in Darfur has been the rebellion which flared in 2003.

(Reuters)

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