Press Release: 17 May 2009

New suspect in the situation in Darfur, Sudan: First appearance scheduled for Monday, 18 May 2009




Situation: Darfur, Sudan
Case: The Prosecutor v. Bahr Idriss Abu Garda

Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued a summons ordering Bahr Idriss Abu Garda (“Abu Garda”), who is suspected of having committed war crimes in Darfur, Sudan, to appear before the International Criminal Court in The Hague on Monday, 18 May 2009, at 3 p.m. The decision of the Chamber was issued under seal on 7 May 2009 and was unsealed today.

Abu Garda, a member of the Zaghawa tribe of Sudan, is charged with three counts of war crimes allegedly committed during an attack carried out on 29 September 2007 against the African Union Mission in Sudan (“AMIS”), a peace-keeping mission stationed at the Military Group Site Haskanita (“MGS Haskanita”), Umm Kadada locality, North Darfur.

Pre-Trial Chamber I considered that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the attack against AMIS occurred in the context of an armed conflict not of an international character that existed in Darfur between the Government of Sudan and several organised armed groups at the time of the attack. It was allegedly carried out, jointly with troops belonging to another armed group, by splinter forces of the Justice and Equality Movement (“JEM”), under the command of Abu Garda.

It is alleged that the attackers, numbering approximately 1,000, were armed with anti-aircraft guns, artillery guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers and that they killed twelve AMIS soldiers and severely wounded eight others. During and after the attack, they allegedly destroyed AMIS communications installations, dormitories, vehicles and other materials and appropriated AMIS property, including refrigerators, computers, cellular phones, military boots and uniforms, 17 vehicles, fuel, ammunition and money.

Pre-Trial Chamber I, composed of Presiding Judge Sylvia Steiner (Brazil), Judge Sanji Mmasenono Monageng (Botswana) and Judge Cuno Tarfusser (Italy) considered that there are reasonable grounds to believe that Abu Garda is criminally responsible for the following war crimes:

  • violence to life, in the form of murder, whether committed or attempted, within the meaning of article 8(2)(c)(i) of the Statute; 
  • intentionally directing attacks against personnel, installations, material, units or vehicles involved in a peacekeeping mission within the meaning of article 8(2)(e)(iii) of the Statute; and 
  • pillaging, within the meaning of article 8(2)(e)(v) of the Statute.

The judges held that a summons to appear for Abu Garda would be sufficient to ensure his appearance before the Court on the basis of information provided by the Office of the Prosecutor stating that the suspect has expressed his willingness to appear before the Chamber. Accordingly, the issuance of a warrant of arrest did not appear necessary.

Bearing in mind the need to preserve public order and ensure the orderly conduct of the proceedings, the Chamber attached a number of conditions to the summons to appear. In particular, it ordered Abu Garda to refrain from discussing issues related to the charges or evidence considered by the Chamber and from making any political statements. At a hearing in closed session held on 13 May 2009, it was specified that Abu Garda should have no contact with the press before his first appearance and that any statement made by him should be delivered in a manner which is respectful of the Court and the Host State. It was also specified that the Court will have no role in facilitating or organising such contacts, except for the need to ensure that Abu Garda remains at all times under the control of the Court and that any violation by him of the conditions of the summons be promptly reported to the Chamber. To this effect, the Registrar was instructed to make a suitable location available for such contacts.

On 18 May 2009, Abu Garda will appear before Judge Cuno Tarfusser, acting as Single Judge. He will be informed of the crimes which he is alleged to have committed and of his rights under the Rome Statute. A confirmation hearing will be held within a reasonable time to determine whether or not there are substantial grounds to believe that he committed the crimes charged.

Ongoing proceedings in the situation in Darfur

This case is the third in the situation in Darfur after the cases of The Prosecutor v. Ahmad Muhammad Harun (“Ahmad Harun”) and Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman (“Ali Kushayb”) and The Prosecutor v. Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir.
The suspects (Harun and Kushayb, and Al Bashir) in the first two cases remain at large.
Pre-Trial Chamber I is also reviewing the Prosecutor’s application, submitted on 20 November 2008, for the issuance of warrants of arrest or, alternatively, summonses to appear for two other individuals who allegedly participated in the attack on MGS Haskanita.

The situation in Darfur was referred to the International Criminal Court by United Nations Security Council resolution 1593 on 31 March 2005 under article 13(b) of the Rome Statute.

To date, four situations have been referred to the ICC. Three States Parties to the Rome Statute – Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic – have referred situations occurring on their territories. The situation in Darfur, Sudan, was referred by the United Nations Security Council. Sudan is not State party to the Rome Statute.



For further information please contact Ms Sonia Robla, Head of Public Information and Documentation Section at +31 (0)70 515 8089 or +31 (0) 6 46 44 87 26 or at [email protected].