Home | News    Thursday 30 June 2005

Justice minister says Sudan to try Darfur suspects

LONDON, June 30 (Reuters) - Sudan’s justice minister on Thursday rejected calls for the extradition of Darfur war crimes suspects to the International Criminal Court, after the court’s prosecutor said key perpetrators may not face justice at home.

Sudan’s Justice Minister Ali Mohamed Yassin.

Darfur is the first case the U.N. Security Council has referred to the ICC in The Hague, but Sudan has said it will hold its own trials and will not allow any extraditions.

Justice Minister Ali Mohamed Osman Yassin said 10 suspects were already on trial in southern Darfur for crimes including rape.

"Now the court is starting its job ... We have started judicial proceedings and the hearings have started," Yassin told BBC radio.

"We are very transparent, we are cooperative, and we would like to use all the rational logic to convince the ICC that this matter can be retained locally."

ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, appearing before the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday, said he did not think Sudanese courts would put on trial those most responsible for atrocities, who legal analysts say may include top government officials.

He said in a report before his appearance that there seemed to be an "absence of criminal proceedings relating to the cases on which the Office of the Prosecutor is likely to focus."

An estimated 180,000 people have died from fighting, hunger and disease in Darfur, in western Sudan, and 2 million have fled their homes to escape killings and rape during more than two years of conflict which Washington has called genocide.