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ICC rejects appeal to overturn dismissal of charges against Darfurian rebel leader

26 April 2010 – The pre-trial chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has rejected an appeal by prosecutors to overturn an earlier decision declining to confirm charges against a rebel leader accused of directing the September 2007 attack that killed a dozen African Union peacekeepers in Sudan’s strife-torn Darfur region.

In February, the chamber said there was insufficient evidence to establish that Bahar Idriss Abu Garda, who commands a splinter group of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), could be held criminally responsible for the crimes he has been charged with.

He was the first person to appear voluntarily before the ICC, which is based in The Hague, in response to a summons.

Mr. Abu Garda was charged with three war crimes – murder, attacks against a peacekeeping mission and pillaging – allegedly committed when 1,000 rebels attacked the Haskanita camp in South Darfur state on 29 September 2007.

That attack killed 12 peacekeepers serving with the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) and wounded eight others.

AMIS was the predecessor to the joint UN-AU peacekeeping mission (UNAMID), which is tasked with quelling the violence in Darfur, where an estimated 300,000 people have died and another 3 million displaced as a result of fighting that began in 2003 between Government forces and allied Arab militiamen, known as the Janjaweed.

The pre-trial chamber said in February that its decision to decline to confirm the charges against Mr. Abu Garda does not preclude the prosecution from subsequently requesting the confirmation of the charges against him “if such request is supported by additional evidence,” or appealing the decision on the confirmation of charges.

It found on Friday that the prosecution’s application to reverse the February decision do not meet the requirements for an appeal under the Rome Statute, under which the ICC operates.

The situation in Darfur is one of four – along with the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Uganda – currently under investigation by the Prosecutor of the ICC, an independent, permanent court that tries persons accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.



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