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ICC counsel for defense in Darfur accuses court of racial bias

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By Wasil Ali

March 11, 2007 (KHARTOUM) — The counsel for defense in Darfur case at the International Criminal Court (ICC) Hadi Shalluf has accused the world court of prejudice because of his Middle Eastern background.

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Hadi Shalluf

In an interview with al-Sahafa daily published in Khartoum, Shalluf blasted the ICC’s chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo for not allowing him to join the prosecutor’s team that traveled to Khartoum last January and met with Darfur war crime suspects in custody.

Shalluf revealed that Ocampo has a list of suspects that contains 57 names after adding more names to the list prepared by the UN Commission of Inquiry on Darfur. He also said he expected the court to issue summons to appear or arrest warrants against the two Darfur suspects in April.

The Libyan born counsel was appointed by the court on August 2006 to represent and protect the general interests of the defense in the Darfur case before the ICC.

The judges of the Pre-Trial Chamber I of the ICC who were assigned the Darfur case, invited the observations of Antonio Cassese the head of UN commission of inquiry on Darfur and by Louise Arbour the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights concerning the protection of victims and the preservation of evidence in Darfur.

The judges also asked Shalluf to address the issues raised by Cassese and Arbor in their observations. However, Shalluf ignored the observations and filed a long series of motions to challenge the jurisdiction of the Court and the admissibility of the Darfur case at the ICC that were eventually rejected by the judges.

In his interview Shalluf warned that if the Darfur case was allowed to proceed in the ICC then it would set a precedent that will enable Ocampo to prosecute citizens of non-party states such as the US, China and Russia.

Shalluf stated that the judges of the Pre-Trial Chamber I were “overwhelmed by the sound legal arguments he made to challenge the jurisdiction of the court” but rejected it on the grounds that he is not assigned by “either the Sudanese government or the suspects”. The defense counsel added that he is under pressure from the court and other parties who accused him of obstructing the functions of the ICC simply because he is an “Arab and a Muslim”.

Shalluf also faulted Ocampo for not allowing him to be present with his team in Khartoum to meet Darfur war suspects saying that the chief prosecutor apparently “did not want to incur more financial expenses”. The counsel also criticized the Sudanese government for “not taking the ICC seriously” and offered to fully cooperate with Khartoum to handle the Darfur case.

The Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Luis Moreno Ocampo announced on February 27 that he filed charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity against Ahmed Muhammed Harun the Sudanese minister for Humanitarian Affairs and Janjaweed militia leader Ali Kosheib.

Sudan has not ratified the Rome Statue, but the UN Security Council triggered 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.

(ST)

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