By Wasil Ali
June 24, 2008 (WASHINGTON) –The Sudanese government considered turning over two suspects accused of war crimes in Darfur to the International Criminal Court (ICC), a senior Sudanese official told Sudan Tribune today.
- Sudanese Vice President Ali Osman Taha gestures as he speaks during a press conference in Khartoum, 21 October 2007 (AFP)
The official who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter said that the leadership of the National Congress Party (NCP) “is getting very nervous over the upcoming announcement by the ICC of new suspects”.
A year ago the judges of the ICC issued their first arrest warrants on the Darfur case against Haroun and militia commander Ali Mohamed Ali Abdel-Rahman, also know as Ali Kushayb. Sudan has so far rejected handing over the two suspects.
The senior official said that the NCP held an unpublicized meeting recently that included the Sudanese president Omar Hassan Al-Bashir, 2nd Vice President Ali Osman Taha, presidential adviser Mustafa Ismail and state minister for foreign affairs Ali Karti among others.
According to the official, Karti made a presentation to the NCP leadership in which he outlined the “difficult position” the government will be in if senior officials are charged by the world court of war crimes.
Karti recommended that Haroun and Kushayb being extradited to the Hague “as a protection from further indictments” the official said.
Al-Bashir appeared to be in agreement with the proposal, the official said, as well as others who were present but that Vice President Taha staunchly opposed it “on the grounds of preserving Sudan’s sovereignty”.
Taha was the top official in charge of handling the Darfur crisis during 2003-2005. He secured the release of the notorious Janjaweed leader Musa Hilal from prison to help mobilize Arab tribes to crush the Darfur rebellion.
Hilal was serving a jail sentence for leading an armed robbery against the Central Bank of Nyala in which one policeman was killed.
The leak of the meeting comes a few days after the Sudanese president swore 3 times not to surrender any Sudanese citizen to the ICC.
Last week the UN Security Council (UNSC) and European Union (EU) issued formal statements voicing support for the work of court in Darfur. The EU threatened sanctions against individuals obstructing cooperation with the ICC.
The ICC prosecutor is also due to name new suspects next month likely to include senior Sudanese officials.
Sudan has not ratified the Rome Statue, but the UN Security Council (UNSC) invoked the provisions under the Statue that enables it to refer situations in non-State parties to the world court if it deems that it is a threat to international peace and security.