The Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, the Netherlands, issued a unanimous decision today confirming all 31 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity against former Darfur janjaweed leader Ali Muhammad Ali Abdelrahman (also known as Ali Kushayb) and committed him to trial before a Trial Chamber.
As previously reported by Radio Dabanga, Kushayb initially appeared before the ICC on June 15. He then appeared before Pre-Trial Chamber II on May 24-26.Dressed in a grey suit and flanked by two (socially distanced) security officers, Kushayb (referred to officially for court purposes as Abd-Al-Rahman) listened calmly to three days of submissions from the prosecution and legal representation of the victims.
Kushayb has yet to enter a plea, and his defence has thus far been based largely on insisting that his name is Abd-Al-Rahman, and that he is not the person referred to as Ali Kushayb.
‘There are substantial grounds to believe that Mr Abd-Al-Rahman is responsible for 31 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity…’ – ICC
In today’s decision, Presiding Judge Rosario Salvatore Aitala, Judge Antoine Kesia-Mbe Mindua, and Judge Tomoko Akane, found that “there are substantial grounds to believe that Mr Abd-Al-Rahman is responsible for 31 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed between August 2003 and at least April 2004 in Kutum, Bindisi, Mukjar, Deleig, and their surrounding areas in Darfur, Sudan.”
The ICC statement following the decision points out that the charges include intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population as such, as a war crime; murder as a crime against humanity and as a war crime; pillaging as a war crime; destruction of the property of an adversary as a war crime; other inhumane acts as a crime against humanity; outrages upon personal dignity as a war crime; rape as a crime against humanity and a war crime; forcible transfer as a crime against humanity; persecution as a crime against humanity; torture as a crime against humanity and a war crime; cruel treatment as a war crime; attempted murder as a crime against humanity and a war crime.
The decision confirming the charges can be appealed only with the authorisation of Pre-Trial Chamber II.
Warrant of arrest
The ICC issued arrest warrants against former Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, Ahmed Haroun, and Kushayb in 2007.Kushayb was transferred to the ICC’s custody on June 9, 2020 after surrendering himself voluntarily in the Central African Republic.Upon his arrest, the Sudanese government announced its support for his transfer to the ICC.Kushayb is also charged with a number of crimes by the Sudanese authorities.
* Procedural explanation (Source: ICC)
The purpose of the confirmation of charges hearing is for the judges to determine whether or not there is sufficient evidence to establish substantial grounds to believe that the suspect committed each of the crimes charged.If the charges are confirmed, in full or in part, the case will be transferred to a Trial Chamber, which will conduct the subsequent phase of the proceedings: the trial.
In accordance with Regulation 53 of the Regulations of the Court, the Pre-Trial Chamber shall deliver its written decision within 60 days of the date on which the confirmation hearing ends.The Pre-Trial Chamber may then either confirm those charges for which the Chamber has determined that there is sufficient evidence, and commit the suspect to trial before a Trial Chamber, decline to confirm those charges for which it has determined that there is insufficient evidence and stop the proceedings, or adjourn the hearing and request the Prosecutor to provide further evidence, to conduct further investigations or to amend any charge for which the evidence submitted appears to establish that a crime other than the one charged was committed.
The Defence and the Prosecutor cannot directly appeal this decision. However they can request authorisation from the Pre-Trial Chamber to appeal it.