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Sudan’s defense minister shrugs off potential ICC arrest warrant

December 28, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese defense minister, Abdul Rahim Mohamed Hussien, has called for ignoring the allegations made by the International Criminal Court (ICC), in his first comment since the court’s prosecutors filed a request for his arrest earlier this month.

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FILE - Sudan’s defense minister Abdul Rahim Mohamed Hussein (GETTY)

Hussien is set to join a group of three Sudanese individuals hounded by arrest warrants issued by the ICC after its chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo on 2 December put forward a request for his arrest on charges of “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” allegedly committed in Sudan’s western region of Darfur.

The Hague-based court’s hit list already includes Ali Koshib, a suspected leader of the fearsome Janjaweed militias, and Ahmed Haroun, the governor of South Kordofan State. Both are sought on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

But the most high-profile suspect is Sudan’s president Omer Al-Bashir whose charge-sheet includes genocide besides war crimes and crimes against humanity.

According to Ocampo, Hussein was “one of those who bears the greatest criminal responsibility” for the same crimes under which the ICC issued arrest warrants in 2007 for Ahmed Haroun and Ali Kushaiyb.

Ocampo told Sudan Tribune following his request that they have recently collected new evidence on Hussein’s role in the Darfur crimes. The ICC’s outgoing prosecutor noted that Hussein was Haroun’s boss providing him with instructions during the military campaign.

While the Sudanese government was quick to slam the request as an attempt to sabotage peace in Darfur, Hussein waited for almost a month before making his first reaction.

Addressing a public rally in the capital Khartoum on Wednesday, Hussien said he simply could not care less about the potential arrest warrant.

He called for “marginalizing” the ICC’s allegations against him and president Al-Bashir, saying that the court’s moves aim to debilitate the Sudanese army not the individuals.

General Hussein has been a senior government operative since an Islamist-backed coup on 30 June 1989 brought Al-Bashir to power. He served as a secretary-general of the Revolution Command Council which ruled the country following the coup.

He is known to be a close friend of Al-Bashir and has mainly served in the security dockets – three spells in the interior ministry and twice as minister of defense – plus stints at the presidency of the republic as a minister or adviser.

Delineating his prominence in the coup and decision-making, Hussein told the media on March 13 2008 that he was "one of the few who carried out the coup d’etat.”

"I am not just a minister or an employee, but I am a decision maker and I am responsible for any results!"

(ST)