Home | News    Wednesday 2 January 2008

Darfur war crimes suspect attempted travel on a forged passport

By Wasil Ali

January 1, 2008 (KHARTOUM) — A Sudanese government minister wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) made a failed attempt last month to travel abroad for the first time since his indictment.

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Ahmed Haroun at a press conference in Khartoum

A well placed source in Khartoum told Sudan Tribune that minister of state for humanitarian affairs, Ahmed Mohamed Haroun, wanted to fly to Saudi Arabia in December to perform the annual Islamic pilgrimage.

The judges of the ICC issued their first arrest warrants for suspects accused of war crimes in Sudan’s Darfur region in early May.

The warrants were issued for Ahmed Haroun, state minister for humanitarian affairs, and militia commander Ali Mohamed Ali Abdelrahman, also know as Ali Kushayb. Sudan has so far rejected handing over the two suspects.

The International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) circulated a notice for the arrest of Haroun last June.

The ICC has an agreement with the INTERPOL enabling it to use its telecommunications network and databases.

The source said that Haroun wanted to use a fake passport with a different name for his planned trip in order to apply for a visa to enter Saudi Arabia. However he could not confirm if Haroun actually submitted a visa application to the Saudi consulate in Khartoum.

Haroun ended up cancelling his travel plans after the Sudanese government found out, the source added.

No official at the Saudi consulate in Khartoum was available for comment because of New Years holiday in Sudan.

Saudi Arabia is not a signatory of the Rome Statue that forms the basis of the ICC. However UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution 1593 referring the Darfur situation to the ICC urged all non-State parties to “cooperate fully”.

Last September Haroun told daily Al-Rayaam newspaper that he is not concerned about the International Police (INTERPOL) red notices distributed worldwide asking for his arrest and he will travel if needed.

However it is unlikely that the Sudanese government will allow Haroun to travel abroad given the pending arrest warrants against him.

Haroun was in Jordan, the only Arab country who is party to the ICC, for medical treatment when the ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo announced charges against him late February. The Sudanese minister returned immediately to Khartoum that day.

No extra security measures have been placed on Haroun since the ICC arrest warrants. Last June Haroun’s cell phone was stolen during a wedding he was attending in Khartoum.

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.