Prosecutor: “The attack on African Union peacekeepers in Haskanita was an attack on millions of civilians they had come to protect; we will prosecute those allegedly responsible”
Situation in Darfur, Sudan
Case: The Prosecutor v. Bahr Idriss Abu Garda
ICC Prosecutor welcomes that Bahar Idriss Abu Garda, a rebel commander in Darfur, alleged to have attacked and killed 12 African Union Peacekeepers, injured many others and looted the AU base of Haskanita in September 2007 will voluntarily appear in Court on Monday 18 May in response to a summons.
Today, Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo paid tribute to the peacekeepers: “By killing peacekeepers, the perpetrators attacked the millions of civilians who those soldiers came to protect. They came from Senegal, from Mali, from Nigeria, from Botswana, to serve and protect. They were murdered. Attacking peacekeepers is a serious crime under the Statute and shall be prosecuted.”
The rebel commander is the first person to appear before the Court voluntarily in response to a summons and the first person to appear in relation to the Darfur investigation opened in June 2005.
The Office of the Prosecutor announced in June 2007 that it was monitoring attacks against peacekeepers and aid workers in Darfur. Following the September attack in Haskanita, the most serious attack against peacekeepers in Darfur, the opening of the investigation was formally announced by the Prosecutor of the ICC in December 2007; in his report to the UNSC, Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo then indicated that “such attacks [as the attack against AU peacekeepers in Haskanita in September 2007] can constitute war crimes within the ICC’s jurisdiction”.
In June 2008, the Office further confirmed to the UNSC that the Haskanita case would be completed before the end of the year, noting that “parties are targeting those who came to help civilians, the AU and UN Peacekeepers, the aid workers. Such attacks also …. have a direct impact on the delivery of vital services and thereby exacerbate the suffering of vulnerable groups. They impact on the lives of thousands…. The focus of the Office investigation is the 29 September 2007 attack on Haskanita…. [It] appears to have been committed by rebel forces… Council Members emphasized that no effort should be spared to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
The Prosecution also sought a summons in its first Darfur case against Ahmad Harun and Ali Kushayb in February 2007; after the Government of Sudan and the named individuals stated they would not cooperate with the Court, the Judges issued a warrant of arrest. The Prosecutor confirmed today that “voluntary appearance is always an option under the Statute including for President Al Bashir should he elect to cooperate.”
Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo added that “Cooperation by all parties to the conflict with the ICC, as mandated by the UNSC Resolution 1593, is of critical importance.” He also stressed that “Abu Garda’s appearance in Court would not have been possible without the assistance of a number of African and European States, who worked together with the Office of the Prosecutor over the last 8 months, including The Netherlands, the Host State of the ICC, Chad, Senegal, Nigeria, Mali and the Gambia. I wish to congratulate the OTP tracking cell and to thank the staff of the Registry who ensured the smooth arrival of the suspect in The Hague.“
The names of two other rebel commanders referred to in the Prosecutor’s application remain undisclosed.
On 20 November 2008, the ICC Prosecutor submitted a sealed case against three unidentified rebel commanders believed to be behind the raid on the Haskanita military base at which twelve African Union peacekeepers were killed, and an additional eight injured. This is the third case the Prosecutor is investigating in Darfur, a situation referred to him by Resolution 1593 adopted on 31 March 2005 by the United Nations Security Council. The Prosecution has focused on some of the most serious incidents and the individuals who, according to the evidence, bear the greatest responsibility for crimes in Darfur.
07.05.2009 - Decision on the Prosecutor's Application under Article 58 of 7 May 2009
20.11.2008 - Summary of the Prosecutor's Application of November 2008
05.12.2007 - Sixth Report of the of the ICC to the UN Security Council pursuant to UNSCR 1593 (2005)
07.06.2007 - Fifth Report of the Prosecutor of the ICC to the Security Council pursuant to UNSC 1593 (2005)
For more information please contact:
OTP Public Information Unit
+31 (0)70 515 8759
+31 (0)70 515 8898
Source: Office of the Prosecutor