ICC to Open Sudan Office as Trial of Omar Al-Bashir Draws Near

Sudan and the International Criminal Court have reached an agreement that will allow the Hague-based ICC to open an office in Sudan to collect further evidence to “build a solid case”.

ICC chief prosecutor, Karim Khan described the Darfur civil war as a “dark chapter” in Sudan’s history, and said plans are underway for ex-dictator Omar al-Bashir to stand trial for genocide in the Darfur conflict.

Bashir, 77, has been declared wanted by the ICC for more than a decade over charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Sudanese region.

He ruled Sudan with an iron fist for three decades before being deposed amid popular protests in 2019. He is presently behind bars in Khartoum’s high security Kober prison.

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Bashir is jailed alongside two other former top officials facing ICC war crimes charges — ex-defence minister Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein and Ahmed Haroun, a former governor of South Kordofan.

The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Bashir in 2009 for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, later adding genocide to the charges.

According to the United Nations, 300,000 people have lost their lives and 2.5 million displaced in the Darfur conflict which started in 2003.

Sudan has been led since August 2019 by a transitional civilian-military administration, that has vowed to bring justice to victims of crimes committed under Bashir.

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Sudan’s cabinet had earlier agreed to hand over Bashir and other wanted officials, a decision that still needs the approval of the ruling sovereign council, comprised of military and civilian figures.

Bashir was convicted in December 2019 for corruption, and has been on trial in Khartoum since July 2020 for the Islamist-backed 1989 coup which brought him to power. He faces a possible death penalty if found guilty.

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