Years after crimes occurred in Sudan‘s Darfur area, one of the court’s notorious militia leaders Ali Kushayb is set to go on trial.
On April 5, Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman, also known as Ali Kushayb, before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Hague city.
In 2007, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for the paramilitary leader. He is accused of committing 31 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity between 2003 and 2004. In 2020, he surrendered and was taken to The Hague, where his indictment was affirmed the following year.
Kushayb has contested the charges and attempted to have the court’s jurisdiction overturned.
Kushayb was a member of the Popular Defense Forces, a paramilitary group, and one of the most prominent tribal leaders in the Wadi Salih area. From August 2003 until March 2004, he purportedly commanded hundreds of janjaweed fighters under former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who was deposed in 2019.
According to the ICC, Kushayb is accused of carrying out the government of Sudan’s counterinsurgency strategy, which resulted in the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.
He is suspected of taking part in some of the attacks against civilians between August 2003 and March 2004, during which civilians were killed, raped, and tortured.
“The chamber will hear the prosecution’s opening statement first, followed by a short, unsworn speech by the accused and a short remark provided by the representative of victims,” ICC spokesperson Fadi El Abdallah told newsmen.
On April 6, he added, the first prosecution witness and experts will testify.
Human Rights Watch’s International Justice Program official Elise Keppler emphasises the importance of the trial.
Keppler said the delay in trying Kushayb and other accused individuals in Sudan is due to former President Bashir’s refusal to comply with the court. Bashir is also accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Darfur.
According to Adam Rijal, a spokesperson for Darfur’s internally displaced persons, war victims are relieved that Kushayb has finally been brought to justice.
“This is a triumph for all the victims, and it shows that their patience all these years, in the face of continued crimes committed against them, will be rewarded with justice,” Rijal said.
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