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SLUG: 2-323758 UN/ICC/Darfur (L-O)









HEADLINE: UN Gives Darfur War Crimes Evidence to International Criminal Court

INTRO: The United Nations has turned over evidence of atrocities in Sudan's Darfur region to the International Criminal Court at The Hague. From U.N. headquarters, VOA's Peter Heinlein reports the material includes a list of suspected war criminals.

TEXT: Secretary-General Kofi Annan Tuesday handed ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo a sealed envelope containing the names of 51 persons suspected of involvement in Darfur's ethnic cleansing campaign.

Mr. Annan received the list in January from a commission of inquiry he named to look into reports of widespread war crimes in the vast western Sudanese region.

The envelope had remained sealed pending settlement of a dispute over where war crimes suspects should be tried.

The list was handed over to Mr. Ocampo following last week's Security Council decision to refer Darfur cases to the newly established Hague tribunal.

Supporters say the referral gives legitimacy to the ICC, a tribunal the United States opposes. The United States was one of four Security Council members that abstained on the ICC resolution

As he emerged from his meeting with the secretary-general, Mr. Ocampo urged all countries to support the tribunal's work in the greater interest of ending atrocities in Darfur.

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"To protect life, the international community has joined together to end impunity in Darfur. The Security Council referred the case to the International Criminal Court. Now we have a common task: to end the culture of impunity."

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Earlier Tuesday, ICC officials at The Hague took possession of nine large boxes of documents gathered by the U.N. commission of inquiry. Mr. Ocampo said a lot of work remains to be done before prosecutions can begin.

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"My duty in this common task is to investigate the crimes and to respect the interests of the victims. Before I start the investigation, I have to assess the crimes and the admissibility of the case. I urge states and organizations with information on Darfur to provide it to my office."

/// END ACT ///

Mr. Ocampo refused to answer reporters' questions, but a deputy prosecutor at The Hague has said more than 20 ICC investigators are planning to go to Sudan to continue the investigation.

Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir, however, says his country will refuse to co-operate with the tribunal.

Tens of thousands of Sudanese demonstrators marched through Khartoum Tuesday to protest the Security Council referral of the cases to the Hague tribunal. (Signed)


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