The hearing on the confirmation of charges in the Abu Garda case ends today, 30 October, 2009
Today, 30 October, 2009, the hearing on the confirmation of charges, in the case The Prosecutor v. Bahr Idriss Abu Garda, came to an end. During the nine day hearing, the Office of the Prosecutor and the Defence were able to present their evidence and witness’ to the three judges of Pre-Trial Chamber I. The representatives of the victims also had the opportunity to present their observations. In 60 days time, the judges will decide whether or not there is sufficient evidence to establish substantial grounds to believe that the suspect committed each of the crimes charged.
Abu Garda is suspected of three charges of war crimes allegedly committed during the attack against the African Union peacekeeping mission on the military base of Haskanita, North-Darfur, on 29 September, 2007.
The confirmation hearing started on 19 October 2009. After the opening statements by the Prosecution, the Defence and the Legal Representatives of the 78 victims authorised to participate, the Prosecution presented its evidence. Three witnesses called by the Prosecution testified and were cross-examined by the Defence. The Defence also called a witness who testified in a close session. The Legal Representatives of the Victims were authorised by the judges to ask the witness’ questions related to the victims’ interests. The Defence discussed the Prosecution’s evidence and presented its own evidence.
The closing statements were made on 29 and 30 October, during which the four Legal Representatives of the Victims, Ms Hélène Cisse, Mr Akin Akinbote, Mr Brahima Kone and Colonel Frank Adaka mentioned that no reparation could ever compensate the pain of widows, orphans and survivors of the attack. “Victims will always be victims, but to see that justice is being done will give them some comfort,” Mr Akinbote said.
During the closing statement, the Prosecution reiterated that Bahr Idriss Abu Garda had control over the rebel forces and the crimes committed by them. That the attack which took place on 29 September 2007 is not challenged. That it took place in the context of an armed conflict is not challenged. That 12 peacekeepers died, others were injured and the camp pillaged is not challenged.
The Prosecution concluded that the Military Group Site (MGS) Haskanita had protected status when it was attacked; that the personnel and property at MGS Haskanita were entitled to the protection accorded to civilians on 29 September, 2007. This, the Prosecution argued, is established by their evidence, and the Defence have presented no evidence to contradict it.
Karim Khan, Defence Counsel for Mr Abu Garda, stated that his client is not responsible for the attack against the Haskanita base, on 29 September, 2007, and that the Haskanita base of the African Union mission had lost at the time of the attack its protected status under international law.
Within 60 days from the date the confirmation hearing ends with the submission of the written observations of the parties and participants, no later than 30 November, 2009, Pre-Trial Chamber I will deliver its decision. The Chamber, constituted of Presiding Judge Sylvia Steiner, Judge Sanji Mmasenono Monageng and Judge Cuno Tarfusser, may:
confirm those charges in relation to which it has determined that there is sufficient evidence. In that event, the case will go to trial before a Trial‐Chamber;
decline to confirm those charges in relation to which it has determined that there is insufficient evidence and adjourn the proceedings against Abu Garda;
adjourn the hearing and request the Prosecutor to provide further evidence or conduct further investigations;
adjourn the hearing and request the Prosecutor to amend any charge for which the evidence submitted appears to establish that crime other than the crime charged was committed.
Both parties can apply before the Pre‐Trial Chamber for leave to appeal the decision on the confirmation of charges.
The ICC is a permanent international court whose primary purpose is to help to put an end to impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole, namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, thus contributing to the prevention of such crimes.
For further information please contact Ms Sonia Robla, Head of Public Information and Documentation Section at +31 (0)70 515-8089 or +31 (0) 646448726 or at [email protected]