Press Release: 27 February 2007

ICC - Prosecutor opening remarks


Press Release

Prosecutor opening remarks

ICC-OTP-20070227-208 عربي

Situation: Darfur, Sudan

The video of the press conference is available:
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Over the past 20 months, the Prosecution has conducted an investigation into crimes allegedly committed in Darfur.  We have completed the necessary investigative steps and this morning we presented the evidence to the judges.

Throughout the investigation, our Office has thoroughly examined incriminating and exonerating facts in an independent and impartial manner, as established in the Rome Statute.  The investigation was very complicated.

Reaching the victims was the priority for our Office. Because we have a duty to protect victims and witnesses, we conducted interviews with them outside Darfur. It was not possible to protect the witnesses in Darfur. We interviewed witnesses around the world, reaching people in 17 countries and collecting nearly 100 statements.

The investigation was greatly aided by documents collected by the United Nations Commission of Inquiry.  We very much appreciate their efforts.

During the course of our investigation, we also collected and reviewed documents produced by the Sudanese National Commission of Inquiry.  It is interesting to remark that many findings were consistent with findings by the UN Commission of Inquiry. We reviewed a report by the Minister of Defence of the Sudan and obtained information from high Sudanese officials.

In accordance with the Rome Statute our Office has focused its efforts on some of the most serious incidents and the individuals who according to the evidence collected bear the greatest responsibility for those incidents. 

The Prosecution has concluded there are reasonable grounds to believe that Ahmad Muhammad HARUN and Ali Muhammad Ali ABD-AL-RAHMAN (better-known as Ali KUSHAYB) bear criminal responsibility in relation to 51 counts of alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes.

These alleged crimes were committed during attacks on the village of Kodoom, and the towns of Bindisi, Mukjar, and Arawala in West Darfur between August 2003 and March 2004.

The attacks occurred during a non-international armed conflict between the Government of the Sudan and armed rebel forces, including the Sudanese Liberation Movement/Army and the Justice and Equality Movement.  The conflict involved rebel attacks on Sudanese Government installations in Darfur and a counterinsurgency campaign by the Sudanese Government. 

In April 2003, the rebels carried out an attack on Al Fashir airport in North Darfur, destroying aircraft, killing a number of military personnel, and kidnapping the Sudanese Air Force commander. This was a turning point in the conflict.  After, Ahmad HARUN was appointed Minister of State for the Interior of the Government of the Sudan and tasked to head the “Darfur Security desk”. His position as head of the “Darfur Security desk” became critical.  Why?  State and Locality Security Committees in Darfur reported to him, especially on matters relating to the staffing, funding, and arming of the Militia/Janjaweed.  The Security Committees were comprised of representatives of the Sudanese Armed Forces, Police and Intelligence agencies plus the Governors of each state.

Shortly after Harun’s appointment, the recruitment of Militia/Janjaweed greatly increased, ultimately into the tens of thousands.  

The vast majority of attacks in Darfur were carried out by the Militia/Janjaweed and the Armed Forces, and were directed at areas inhabited by mainly Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa tribes. The attackers did not target any rebel presence. Rather, they targeted civilian residents based on the rationale that they were supporters of the rebel forces.

This strategy became the justification for the mass murder, summary execution, and mass rape of civilians who were known not to be participants in any armed conflict.  The strategy included the forced displacement of entire villages and communities.

In this context, Ahmad HARUN and Ali KUSHAYB, acted together, and with others, with the common purpose of attacking the civilian populations of these four villages and towns. 

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I have submitted to the Judges a one hundred page document containing my evidence.  Let me summarize some of them.

The evidence shows that Ahmad HARUN visited Darfur on a regular basis and became known to people in Darfur as the official from Khartoum who recruited, armed, and funded the Militia/Janjaweed in Darfur.

The evidence shows that Ahmad HARUN provided funds to the Militia/Janjaweed from a budget that was unlimited and not publicly audited. The Militia/Janjaweed were paid in cash, and Ahmad HARUN was seen travelling with well guarded boxes.

The evidence shows that Ahmad HARUN personally delivered arms to Militia/Janjaweed in Darfur. He was seen in aircrafts loaded with supplies of arms and ammunition, in some cases G-3s and Kalashnikov rifles. These landings were observed in the three Darfur States, North, West and South.

The evidence shows that Ahmad HARUN incited the Militia/Janjaweed to attack the Fur, Zaghawa and Masalit people.  Let me give you an example.  In early August 2003, HARUN arrived by helicopter in the town of Mukjar as Militia/Janjaweed under the command of Ali KUSHAYB were moving into the town. Ahmad HARUN met privately with KUSHAYB and then gave a public speech.  He stated that “since the children of the Fur had become rebels, all the Fur and what they had, had become booty” for the Militia/Janjaweed. Immediately upon his departure, Militia/Janjaweed looted the entire town.

When victims of the looting complained, they were told that the Militia “could do what they wanted” because “they were acting on the orders of the Minister of State.”

The evidence shows that during a public meeting, Ahmad HARUN said that in being appointed to head of the ‘’Darfur Security desk’’,  he had been given all the power and authority to kill or forgive whoever in Darfur for the sake of peace and security.

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Let me present some information about Ali KUSHAYB.  Ali KUSHAYB personally led attacks on these four villages and towns. By mid-2003, he was commanding thousands of Militia/Janjaweed.

In one of the attacks in the Kodoom area in August 2003, Ali KUSHAYB was seen issuing instructions to the Militia/Janjaweed. Civilians were being fired upon as they fled.

During the attack on Bindisi on or about 15 August 2003, Ali KUSHAYB was seen in military uniform issuing orders. His forces pillaged and burned homes and shops. The attack on Bindisi lasted for approximately five days and resulted in the destruction of most of the town and the death of more than 100 civilians, including 30 children.

In Arawala, in December 2003, the evidence shows, Ali KUSHAYB personally inspected a group of naked women before they were raped by men in military uniform. A witness said she and the other women were tied to trees and repeatedly raped.

The evidence shows that Ali KUSHAYB personally participated in a number of summary executions.  For example, in or around March 2004 he was involved in the execution of at least 32 men from Mukjar. The evidence shows Ali KUSHAYB beating these men as they were being boarded into Land Cruisers. The cars then left with KUSHAYB in one of them. About fifteen minutes later, gunshots were heard and the next day 32 dead bodies were found in the bushes.

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Based on the evidence the Prosecution has collected, we consider Ali KUSHAYB and Ahmad HARUN to be some of those most responsible for crimes committed in Darfur. 

Our evidence shows that they committed crimes against humanity and war crimes including: Rape and other form of sexual violence; murder; persecution; torture; forcible transfer; destruction of property; pillaging; inhumane acts; outrage upon personal dignity; and severe deprivation of liberty.

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I would like to say a few words about the admissibility of the case.  According with the Rome Statute I have the duty to assess whether the Sudanese judicial authorities have investigated or prosecuted the same case. Our Office has conducted 5 missions to Khartoum where we gathered information on national proceedings from the judiciary, police, and other government departments.

The Government of the Sudan informed the Prosecution that Ali KUSHAYB is under criminal investigation and was arrested on the 28th of November 2006.

Our case is about Ahmad Harun and Ali Kushayb joining each other to attack the civilian population in Darfur. There is no such investigation in the Sudan.

On this basis, the Prosecution has concluded that the case is admissible.  To be clear, the admissibility assessment is not a judgement on the Sudanese justice system as a whole.  We are just assessing if the Sudanese authorities are carrying out the same case.

The Pre-Trial Chamber I will review the evidence. If the judges accept that there are reasonable grounds to believe the named individuals committed the alleged crimes, they will decide how to ensure their appearance in court.

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Let me conclude.

Thousands of civilians died in Darfur either from direct violence or as a result of disease, starvation and the conditions of life imposed by the crimes. Rape is widespread. The conflict has resulted in more than 2 million internally displaced persons and over two hundred thousands refugees.

Our evidence exposes the facts and the suffering of the victims in Darfur as conveyed by the witnesses we interviewed. Based on their stories we built a judicial investigation to unveil the truth, to prosecute the most responsible and to contribute to the prevention of future crimes.

The Office is continuing to gather information about current crimes committed by all the parties in Darfur and is monitoring the spill-over of violence into Chad, including in the refugee camps, and into the Central African Republic, which are both State parties to the Rome Statute.

Our work sends a signal: those who commit atrocities can not do so with impunity.

The video of the press conference is available:
Floor | English | French | Arabic 
Select a Language  - [Window Media Player - 128 Kb]   

Source: Office of the Prosecutor

Source: Office of the Prosecutor | Contact: [email protected]