CAIRO (AP) — A top Sudanese official said Tuesday the country’s transitional authorities and rebel groups have agreed to hand over officials wanted by the ICC, presumably referring to long-time autocrat Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted for war crimes including mass killings in Darfur.
Al-Bashir, who was overthrown by the military last year amid a public uprising, is wanted by the ICC on charges of crimes against humanity and genocide related to the Darfur conflict. Since his ouster in April, he has been in jail in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, on charges of corruption and killing protesters.
Mohammed Hassan al-Taishi, a member of the Sovereign Council and a government negotiator, said the council agreed with rebel groups in Darfur to hand over those wanted by the International Criminal Court to face justice in The Hague. He didn’t mention al-Bashir by name.
Al-Taishi did not say when they would transfer al-Bashir or others wanted by the court, and the transitional administration would need to ratify the ICC’s Rome Statute to allow for the transfer the former president to The Hague.
He spoke in a news conference in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, where the government and rebels hold talks to end the country’s decades-long civil war.
The ICC first charged al-Bashir with involvement in crimes in Darfur on March 4, 2009, and again on July 12, 2010. His case marked the first time the global court had charged a suspect with genocide.
Al-Bashir faces three counts of genocide, five of crimes against humanity and two of war crimes for allegedly leading the deadly crackdown by government forces and Janjaweed militia on the Darfur region from 2003.
Al-Bashir was long seen as a poster boy for impunity in Africa and out of reach of the ICC. Despite international arrest warrants issued by the ICC he regularly flew to visit leaders around the world apparently without fear of arrest.
In the Darfur conflict, rebels among the territory’s ethnic Central African community had launched an insurgency in 2003, complaining of discrimination and oppression by the Arab-dominated Khartoum government. The government responded with a scorched earth assault of aerial bombings and unleashed the Janjaweed militia. Up to 300,000 people were killed and 2.7 million driven from their homes.
Along with al-Bashir, the ICC has indicted two other senior figures in his regime — Abdel-Rahim Muhammad Hussein, who was interior and defense minister during much of the conflict, and Ahmed Haroun, a senior security chief at the time who last month was named by al-Bashir to run the ruling National Congress Party.
Associated Press writer Mike Corder in The Hague, Netherlands contributed to this report.