Two Sudan rebel leaders surrender to warcrimes court

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Two Sudan rebel leaders arrived in The Hague on Wednesday after surrendering to the International Criminal Court to answer to accusations of war crimes in Darfur, the court said.

"Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain and Saleh Mohammed Jerbo Jamus, both suspected of having committed war crimes in Darfur, Sudan, arrived voluntarily this morning at the International Criminal Court," a statement said.

"Both suspects will stay at the location assigned to them by the court until their first appearance before the chamber" Thursday morning, after which they would be free to leave the Netherlands pending further appearances.

The men face three counts of war crimes allegedly committed in an attack on the Haskanita military base in north Darfur on September 29, 2007, that killed 12 African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) peacekeepers and injured eight.

The attack was allegedly carried out by fighters of the Sudanese Liberation Army-Unity under the command of Jerbo, and splinter forces of the Justice and Equality Movement led by Banda.

"It is alleged that the attackers, numbering approximately 1,000, were armed with anti-aircraft guns, artillery guns and rocket propelled grenade launchers," said the court statement.

"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."

A pre-trial chamber had found there were reasonable grounds to believe that Band and Jerbo were criminally responsible for murder, an intentional attack on peacekeepers, and pillaging, said the statement.

Summonses for the men to appear were issued under seal in August last year. Arrest warrants were not considered necessary.

The court said the men would make an initial appearance on Thursday, during which they will be informed of the allegations and of their rights.

A further hearing will be held "within a reasonable time" to confirm the charges against the two -- a requirement before the case can go to trial. Their appearance at this "confirmation of charges hearing" was not obligatory.

The case is the fourth before the ICC involving alleged warcrimes in Darfur.

Arrest warrants are outstanding for Sudan's President Omar al-Beshir, former government minister Ahmed Haroun and militia leader Ali Kosheib.

Beshir rejects the jurisdiction of the ICC, the world's only independent, permanent court with authority to try genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, and has refused to hand over his two allies.

ICC judges have turned down a prosecution bid to prosecute fellow rebel chief Bahar Idriss Abu Garda over the Haskanita attack, finding insufficient evidence to link him to the killings. He had also appeared before the ICC voluntarily.

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.

© 2010 AFP

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