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July 12, 2010 The Times of India-

UNITED NATIONS: Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, has been slapped with three counts of genocide in Darfur by the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

Last year, an arrest warrant for war crimes and crimes against humanity was issued against the leader of the largest country in Africa. The Court’s pre-trial chamber said that there are reasonable grounds to believe that Bashir is responsible for three counts of genocide against the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups in the region.

The charges include genocide by killing; genocide by causing serious bodily or mental harm; and genocide by deliberately inflicting conditions of life meant to destroy each target group. The conflict between the ethnic tribes of Darfur and the predominantly Arab government has been persisting for almost ten years.

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CNN

VOA

AFP

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Pre-Trial Chamber 8 Feb 2010

Pre-Trial Chamber I declines to confirm the charges against Bahar Idriss Abu Garda

Situation: Darfur, Sudan

Case: The Prosecutor v. Bahar Idriss Abu Garda

Today, Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court issued a decision declining to confirm the charges in the case of The Prosecutor v. Bahar Idriss Abu Garda.

The Chamber was not satisfied that there was sufficient evidence to establish substantial grounds to believe that Bahar Idriss Abu Garda could be held criminally responsible either as a direct or as an indirect co-perpetrator for the commission of the crimes with which he was charged by the Prosecution. Abu Garda was charged with three war crimes, namely violence to life, intentionally directing attacks against personnel, installations, material, units and vehicles involved in a peacekeeping mission, and pillaging, 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 Haskanita Military Group Site (“MGS Haskanita”), in the locality of Umm Kadada, North Darfur.

The Chamber stressed that the case was of sufficient gravity as the consequences of the attack had affected not only the AMIS personnel and their families, but also the local population as AMIS, involved in a peacekeeping mission, established under the auspices of the African Union, first suspended, and finally reduced its activities in the area. The Chamber also found that there were substantial grounds to believe that AMIS personnel and installations, material, units and vehicles stationed at the MGS Haskanita were entitled to protection given to civilians and to civilian objects under the international law of armed conflicts. The Chamber found, however, that the Prosecution’s allegations that Abu Garda participated in the alleged common plan to attack MGS Haskanita were not supported by sufficient evidence.

The Chamber’s decision was taken by unanimity, and one judge filed a separate opinion. The decision does not preclude the Prosecution from subsequently requesting the confirmation of the charges against Abu Garda if such request is supported by additional evidence. The Prosecution can also submit a request to Pre-Trial chamber I for leave to appeal the decision on the confirmation of charges.

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New York Times MARLISE SIMONS Feb 9 2010

International judges dismissed a war crimes case against a Sudanese rebel leader on Monday, saying there was not enough evidence to try him on charges that he played a key role in the killing of 12 African Union peacekeepers in Darfur in 2007. Bahr Idriss Abu Garda, a leader of the United Resistance Front, voluntarily traveled to theInternational Criminal Court in The Hague last year to attend hearings in the case. The court’s prosecutor had accused him and two others of organizing an attack in which about 1,000 rebels stormed a peacekeeper base in Darfur, and fled with equipment and vehicles.

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Angola Press

Washington Post

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Bloomberg  Jason McLure, Feb 5 2010

The African Union said a decision by the International Criminal Court to review a decision not to charge Sudanese President Umar al-Bashir with genocide in the western region of Darfur may undermine peace in the country.

“The AU reiterates that the search for justice should be pursued in a manner not detrimental to the search for peace,” the 53-member nation group said in an e-mailed statement today. “The latest decision by the ICC runs in the opposite direction.”

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AFP Emmanuel GOUJON Feb 5 2010

ADDIS ABABA — The African Union on Friday said the International Criminal Court’s decision to consider adding genocide charges to an arrest warrant for President Omar el-Beshir harms Sudan’s peace process.

“The AU reiterates that the search for justice should be pursued in a manner not detrimental to the search for peace. The latest decision by the ICC runs in the opposite direction,” the pan-African body said in a statement.

An appeals chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Wednesday ordered a review of Beshir’s arrest warrant for alleged atrocities in the western Sudanese province of Darfur.

It directed judges to reconsider their decision omitting genocide from the warrant issued in March last year, saying they had made “an error in law”.

The African Union said the ICC’s decision comes at a sensitive time for Sudan — with elections due to be held in April and a referendum on self-determination for Southern Sudan set for January 2011.

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Appeals Chamber Judgment 3-2-2010

Al Bashir case: The Appeals Chamber directs Pre-Trial Chamber I to decide anew on the genocide charge

Case: The Prosecutor v. Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir

Situation: Darfur, Sudan

Today, 3 February, 2010, the Appeals Chamber rendered its judgment on the Prosecutor’s appeal, reversing, by unanimous decision, Pre-Trial Chamber I’s decision of 4 March, 2009, to the extent that Pre-Trial Chamber I decided not to issue a warrant of arrest in respect of the charge of genocide. The Appeals Chamber directed the Pre-Trial Chamber to decide anew whether or not the arrest warrant should be extended to cover the charge of genocide.

Judge Kourula, presiding judge on this appeal, delivered a summary of the judgment. The Appeals Chamber explained that it was not concerned with the question of whether Mr Omar Al Bashir is, or is not, responsible for the crime of genocide. Rather, the Appeals Chamber addressed a question of procedural law, namely whether the Pre-Trial Chamber applied the correct standard of proof when disposing of the Prosecutor’s application for an arrest warrant.

In its 4 March, 2009, decision, Pre-Trial Chamber I rejected the Prosecutor’s application in respect of genocide stating that it would issue an arrest warrant for genocide only if the only reasonable conclusion to be drawn from the Prosecutor’s evidence, based on “proof by inference”, was that there were reasonable grounds to believe in the existence of genocidal intent. The Appeals Chamber found that demanding that the existence of genocidal intent must be the only reasonable conclusion amounts to requiring the Prosecutor to disprove any other reasonable conclusions and to eliminate any reasonable doubt. The Appeals Chamber found this standard of proof to be too demanding at the arrest warrant stage, which is governed by article 58 of the Rome Statute. This amounted to an error of law.

Although the Appeals Chamber reversed the Pre-Trial Chamber’s decision, the Appeals Chamber rejected the Prosecutor’s request to make a finding that there were reasonable grounds to believe that Omar Al Bashir acted with genocidal intent, as this is a matter to be determined in a new decision by the Pre-Trial Chamber, using the correct standard of proof.

Background information

Pre-Trial Chamber I issued, on 4 March, 2009, the “Decision on the Prosecution’s Application for a Warrant of Arrest against Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir”. In its decision, the Pre-Trial Chamber issued a warrant of arrest against Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir for crimes against humanity and war crimes, but rejected the Prosecutor’s application in respect of the crime of genocide.

On 6 July, 2009, the Prosecutor filed an appeal against this decision. The Appeals Chamber granted the Sudan Workers Trade Unions Federation and the Sudan International Defence Group leave to make submissions as amicus curiae. Eight victims were also authorised to present submissions to the Appeals Chamber.

The situation in Darfur was referred to the International Criminal Court by the United Nations Security Council’s resolution 1593, on 31 March, 2005. In this situation, three cases are being heard: The Prosecutor v. Ahmad Muhammad Harun (“Ahmad Harun”) and Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman (“Ali Kushayb”)The Prosecutor v. Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir; and The Prosecutor v. Bahar Idriss Abu Garda.

The International Criminal Court is the only permanent international court established with the mission to help put an end to impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole, namely the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, and thus to contribute to the prevention of such crimes.

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By Luis Moreno Ocampo, New York Times, 01 July 2009

THE HAGUE — In 1998, more than 100 states adopted the Rome Statute to end impunity for those crimes that we had thought, over and over, would never happen again, only to see them occur, again and again: genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The states accepted their shared duty to punish massive atrocities and created a new actor, a judicial actor, on the international scene: a permanent International Criminal Court, which would step in when national courts failed to act.

An independent, permanent court with a global reach was the object of strong debate in Rome and, for some states, a motive to oppose the court.

The drafters of the Rome Statute were not naïve idealists. They were the ultimate realists. In their lifetimes, they had watched the Khmer Rouge kill millions, they had let Srebrenica happen and they had let Rwanda happen. They had failed the “never again” promises of their fathers.

During their careers as political leaders, diplomats and negotiators, they had tried every solution: They shook hands with devils, sent them off to golden exiles, tried to appease them with promises of immunity, power and wealth. Each time they gambled on impunity and each time they lost.

They learned the need to adjust tactics to a lasting solution. By integrating in one justice system states and an independent international court, the drafters provided incentives for states to prosecute the worst crimes themselves. If the states didn’t do it, the I.C.C. would.

Less than four years after its adoption in Rome, more than 60 states ratified the statute and it entered into force. In 2003, 18 judges representing the five continents were appointed, and I was given responsibility to be the prosecutor. Together, we had to transform the idea of ending impunity into a reality.

During our first year, we found that the gravest crimes under our jurisdiction were committed in Uganda and Congo. The presidents of these countries decided to refer those situations to the court. One year later, in March 2005, Britain and France spearheaded the U.N. Security Council decision to refer Darfur to the court.

No one could have predicted the speed of this integration between the international system of peace and security and the new permanent system of international justice.

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Human Rights Watch, 17 May 2009

(New York) – The decision by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to summon a rebel leader allegedly responsible for the killing of African Union peacekeeping forces in Darfur underscores the gravity of attacks against those deployed to protect civilians, Human Rights Watch said today. Rebel commander Bahar Idriss Abu Garda is expected to appear voluntarily before ICC judges tomorrow to respond to the summons.

Bahar Idriss Abu Garda has been charged with war crimes stemming from an assault on an African Union base in Haskanita, South Darfur, Sudan on September 30, 2007 that killed 12 peacekeepers and civilian police officers from the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS). At least eight others were seriously wounded. Abu Garda will be the first person to appear in relation to the ICC’s Darfur investigation since it was opened in June 2005.

“This case signals the seriousness of deliberately attacking peacekeepers who are defending civilians,” said Richard Dicker, International Justice Program director at Human Rights Watch. “We welcome Bahar Idriss Abu Garda’s appearance at the court, which contrasts starkly with the Sudanese government’s relentless obstruction of justice to the victims in Darfur.”

The Rome Statute of the ICC allows the pretrial chamber to issue a summons to appear rather than an arrest warrant if the judges are satisfied that a summons is sufficient to ensure that the person will appear before the court. The ICC prosecutor made a request for a summons to appear in February 2009.

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Also see coverage from the New York Times.

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