In her recent visit to Sudan, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, seemed to be honorable. He only pointed his arrows towards the leader of the former regime, Ahmed Haroun, to be taken to the court in The Hague, days before the end of her mandate, which postpones the appearance of the rest of those accused of war crimes in the Darfur region for a while.
Despite the tight secrecy over the content of a memorandum signed between the Sudanese government and the Criminal Court last February, the features of the memorandum appeared in testimonies obtained by Al Jazeera Net for Sudanese activists and victims whom Nsouda met. Read also Fatwa, amusement, arrogance and war crimes… Why did “Kushayb” renounce his famous title?The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court calls for the extradition of those wanted in the Darfur file Warnings against digging up the facts.. How will Bensouda’s visit unravel the mystery of Al-Bashir’s appearance before the Hague Tribunal?Sudan discusses with the International Criminal 3 options to try Darfur suspects
According to human rights activist Tahani Abbas, who met Bensouda twice, two ICC employees have been secretly working in Sudan for 8 months, without anyone knowing what tasks they are doing.
In a manifestation of the escalating cooperation between the transitional government and the International Criminal Court, the spokesperson for the General Coordination of Displaced and Refugee Camps in Sudan, Adam Regal, says that Bensouda informed them when she met the victims in Darfur about the arrival of a team of court investigators to Sudan this June.
The visit of the Prosecutor of the Criminal Court last Tuesday to the Darfur region for the first time received the conquerors in “Kalma” camp, one of the largest camps for the displaced in Nyala, capital of South Darfur state.
Prosecutor Bensouda – whose term ends in the middle of this month – is seeking to achieve an achievement by handing Ahmed Haroun to the court before her successor, the British national team, Karim Khan, assumed the position of the new Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court for a period of 9 years, starting on June 16 this year.
Kushayb and Aaron
For his part, the Secretary-General of the Darfur Bar Association, Al-Sadiq Ali Hassan, told Al Jazeera Net that Bensouda, when she met civil society organizations last Wednesday, stated that according to the available data and the testimonies of Ali Kushayb (the most prominent leader of the Janjaweed militias supported by the former Sudanese government in Darfur) before the court in The Hague, Ahmed Aaron is a participant in the crimes, and he must be handed over to court.
Hassan says that the Public Prosecutor discussed with the government the extradition of Haroun, and informed her that the case of former President Omar al-Bashir is not among her duties now, because she was preoccupied in the last days of her term with the Kushayb case that is currently before the court.
The Secretary-General of the Darfur Bar Association expected that Harun’s extradition procedures are currently underway, especially after his request to be tried before the International Court.
In a press conference she held upon her return to Khartoum, Bensouda insisted that Haroun be handed over before next July, because he faces the same accusations against Kushayb, in preparation for their trial together.
Prosecutors brought 31 charges against Kushayb, 72, related to war crimes and crimes against humanity on August 15 and 16, 2003 in Bindisi and Kudam localities, and crimes committed in Mukjar town in Central Darfur state in April 2004.
The crimes included leading attacks against civilians, rape, torture, looting and destruction of personal property, outrages upon human dignity, and displacement of the population.
According to human rights activist Tahani Abbas, Bensouda told her that the Sudanese government is cooperating strongly with the ICC, and that parties to it are very eager to hand over al-Bashir and his wanted aides to the court.
The court’s prosecutor confirmed to Abbas that Ahmed Haroun would be extradited first, and then the other three detainees in Sudan would be handed over. But Bensouda was reticent when Abbas asked her about the possibility of the defendants being brought before a hybrid court, conducted in cooperation between the Sudanese government and the International Tribunal inside, but she stated that she had received government pledges to protect witnesses.
The spokesperson for the Coordination of Displaced Persons and Refugees Camps, Adam Regal, informed that Bensouda met with victims in closed rooms during her visit to Darfur, and received files from them of tribal leaders involved in the crimes.
Since 2008, the court has issued arrest warrants for ousted President Omar al-Bashir and his Defense Minister Abdel Rahim Hussein, as well as Ahmed Haroun, who held several positions in al-Bashir’s government, and they all face charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.
In the same context, a government source stated that understandings had taken place between Bensouda and Sudanese officials in October 2020, when Minister of Justice Nasr El-Din Abdel Bari informed her that the government was inclined to bring the accused locally before the Hajin court.
The source explained to Al-Jazeera Net that government officials told Bensouda that the appearance of Al-Bashir and the rest of the accused inside before a hybrid court, with the participation of judges from The Hague and transmitted on television, would provide the revolution government with political gains.
However, the same source believes that this point, after 8 months, has not yet been resolved, in light of the parties studying the reaction of the victims in Darfur towards the hybrid court, and at the same time the division in Sudanese society that will cause al-Bashir to be taken to The Hague.
The Secretary-General of the Darfur Bar Association says that they learned from the resigned Public Prosecutor, Taj Al-Sir Al-Haber, that there are understandings between the government and the criminal prosecution in the International Court on the Kushayb case exclusively, but these understandings do not include Al-Bashir.
It is noteworthy that Bensouda said – in her meeting with civil society organizations before leaving Khartoum – that the expectations of victims and displaced people in Darfur are great, and they believe that the court will consider all cases.
She stressed that the list of 51 included in the investigation committee formed by a UN Security Council resolution is not binding, and that the investigation led to evidence against the five prosecuted, including Kushayb.
The Darfur Bar Association had previously called on the government to sign an agreement with the Criminal Court that includes returning the wanted persons before any other competent court that considers any other communications registered before it and related to many crimes accused of committing al-Bashir and his aides in Darfur.