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ICC Prosecutor requests access to ousted Sudan dictator Al Bashir

August 25 - 2022 KHARTOUM
ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan QC at a press conference at the end of his week-long visit to Sudan last year (File Photo: SUNA)
ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan QC at a press conference at the end of his week-long visit to Sudan last year (File Photo: SUNA)

The Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Karim Khan, confirmed that he had requested access to former ousted President Omar Al Bashir concerning cases of alleged war crimes in Darfur.

In yesterday’s press conference, the ICC prosecutor stated that “we must respond to the aspirations of the people of Darfur to achieve justice for the victims, but we cannot achieve anything without cooperation”.

The ousted dictator, already indicted by the ICC on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, was also investigated on charges under Sudan’s Foreign Exchange Law and money laundering, after Sudanese authorities seized a substantial amount of cash during a search of his residence in Khartoum last year*.

Khan added that they are in the process of receiving evidence in each of the 31 cases of war crimes and crimes against humanity being tried against former janjaweed leader Ali Muhammad Ali Abdelrahman (known as ‘Ali Kushayb’).

He called on the Sudanese authorities to cooperate with the ICC in the investigations into the crimes witnessed throughout Darfur.

In a meeting between the prosecutor and Vice President of Sudan’s Sovereignty Council and Commander of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) Lt Gen Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemeti’ Dagalo, the RSF leader stated, “the necessity of achieving justice for the people of Darfur”, Khan said.

Prominent human rights defender and Head of the Darfur Bar Association, Saleh Mahmoud, described the government's prevention of the court's delegation from meeting al Bashir and the rest of those wanted in Kober prison, “as a strong sign of the government's lack of cooperation with the court”.

Mahmoud told Radio Dabanga’s Sudan Today programme, that this “behaviour calls into question the government's seriousness and credibility in cooperating and abiding by the two agreements signed with the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court”.

Commenting on what was stated by the ICC prosecutor’s videoconference briefing with the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Tuesday, Mahmoud said that Khan and his office must “review their initial impressions regarding the government's cooperation with the court, and to inform the victims, survivors, and the Security Council” of the reluctance from Sudan’s authorities in handing over wanted criminals.

Khan briefed the UNSC Rome Statue of the ICC, a body of 13 countries, obligated to exercise criminal jurisdiction in the case of a state that is unable or unwilling to genuinely carry out due process in prosecuting perpetrators of war crimes.

The Rome Statute members called on Sudan to cooperate with the office of the Prosecutor of the Criminal Court on Tuesday.

The member countries include Albania, Brazil, Gabon, Ghana, France, Ireland, Norway, the United Kingdom, Ecuador, Japan, Malta, Switzerland, and Mexico.

Following Khan's briefing to the Security Council, Mexico’s Permanent Rome Statute Representative, Juan Ramón de la Fuente, welcomed the ICC prosecutor’s visit to Darfur, and stressed the importance of establishing a field office for the International Criminal Court in Khartoum as soon as possible, he said.

*Following a search of Al Bashir’s property, amounts of $351 million, €6,7 million, £5.2 million, and SDG 5 billion ($105 million) were recovered and deposited within the vaults of the Central Bank of Sudan.

Substantial amounts of money have also been recovered from bank accounts held by Al Bashir. According to Al Sudani newspaper, just one such account at a commercial bank in Khartoum, held 315 million Saudi Riyals ($84 million).

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