Darfur rebels accused of deadly attack on peacekeepers

8th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

Two Darfur rebel leaders were on Wednesday accused of leading an attack in which 12 African Union (AU) peacekeepers were killed, the International Criminal Court heard.

Abdullah Banda Abakaer Nourain and Saleh Mohammed Jerbo Jamus, at the head of a convoy of vehicles armed with anti-aircraft guns and rocket launchers, opened fire on the Haskanita military base in northern Darfur in September 2007, it was alleged.

They "led their respective forces... and carried out a violent attack," prosecutor Essa Faal told the ICC hearing.

"The attack... was not a mistake. It was a deliberate attack against peacekeeping personnel... they destroyed everything.

"The prosecution witnesses confirm that the attack was planned at a meeting."

Around 1,000 assailants took part in the attack targeting peacekeepers from the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) during which the base was looted. The pair face possible charges of war crimes, murder and looting.

At the end of the three day hearing the court will rule within 60 days on whether they should be tried.

In February, judges ruled that rebel chief Bahar Idriss Abu Garda would not face trial for the Haskanita attack due to lack of evidence.

The two accused men, who are not in custody, appeared before the court in June but preferred not to attend the latest hearing due to a temporary lack of interpreters.

"They want a quick trial," their lawyer Karim Khan told AFP.

The United Nations says more than 300,000 people have been killed since the Darfur conflict broke out in 2003, when minority rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated Sudanese government for a greater share of resources and power.

The Sudanese government puts the death toll at 10,000.

The UN-backed ICC is the world's only independent, permanent court with the jurisdiction to try genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

© 2010 AFP

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