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Darfur refugees in Chad (file photo)
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has given the International Criminal Court a list of people suspected of slaughter, rape, and pillaging in Sudan's Darfur region. The move is the first step toward war-crimes prosecutions. Meanwhile in Sudan, tens of thousands of people marched through the capital Khartoum to protest a UN resolution referring war-crimes suspects to the international court in The Hague.
Prague, 6 April 2005 (RFE/RL) -- In New York yesterday, Kofi Annan passed on a list of 51 suspects recommended for trial to Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the first prosecutor at the International Criminal Court.
The sealed list was gathered in Darfur by an independent commission sent by the UN Security Council last year to collect information on human-rights violations.
The list includes the names of government officials, leaders of the Arab militias known as Janjaweed, and rebels.
Earlier, the court in The Hague received the conclusions of the commission, which according to Moreno-Ocampo include mass killings of civilians, systematic rape, and burning of villages. "The commission report [that] there were mass killing of innocent civilians, systematic rape of girls and women, and the burning of whole families," he said. "To protect life, the international community has joined together to end impunity in Darfur."
Some 2 million people have fled their homes and tens of thousands have been killed in fighting in Darfur over the past two years. The United States, among others, has called the violence "genocide" and blamed Sudanese government-backed militias for many of the casualties.
On 31 March, the UN Security Council voted 11-0 to refer alleged war crimes committed in Darfur to the international court. The resolution marked the first time the Security Council has referred a case to the court in The Hague. The court was set up to try perpetrators of genocide, war crimes, and mass human rights abuses. It is too early to say when the tribunal might issue indictments or arrest warrants over Darfur.
The impact of any such court indictments is uncertain. The Sudanese government has said that it would refuse to hand over its citizens to face trial abroad.
Ibrahim Ahmed Omar is the secretary-general of the ruling National Congress Party. He said Sudan would prosecute alleged criminals itself. "Tens of thousands are demonstrating against the United Nations and the Security Council. And they are telling the world that Sudan is not to be taken that way," he said. "Sudanese people are people with honor, and they don't expect to be tried outside Sudan. We have a judiciary which is honest and can do the job."
Omar was speaking yesterday during a massive protest in the capital Khartoum. The protestors were spurred on by a government campaign against the UN resolution.
Angry protesters, mostly young men, stopped at the U.S. Embassy, shouting slogans such as "Down, down, USA." At the UN building, they called the UN secretary-general a coward and an agent of the United States.