8 February 2010 The International Criminal Court (ICC) today declined to confirm the charges made against a rebel leader accused of directing the September 2007 attack that killed a dozen African Union peacekeepers in Sudan’s strife-torn Darfur region, citing a lack of evidence.
The Court’s pre-trial 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,” according to a news release issued by the ICC.
Mr. Abu Garda, who commands a splinter group of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), was the first person to appear voluntarily before the Court, which is based in The Hague, in response to a summons.
He was charged with three war crimes – murder, attacks against a peacekeeping mission and pillaging – allegedly committed when 1,000 rebels attacked the Haskanita camp in South Darfur state on 29 September 2007.
The attack killed 12 peacekeepers serving with the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) and wounded eight others.
AMIS was the predecessor to the joint UN-AU peacekeeping mission (UNAMID), which is tasked with quelling the violence in Darfur, where an estimated 300,000 people have died and another 3 million displaced as a result of fighting that began in 2003 between Government forces and allied Arab militiamen, known as the Janjaweed.
The Court noted that today’s decision does not preclude the prosecution from subsequently requesting the confirmation of the charges against Mr. Abu Garda “if such request is supported by additional evidence,” or appealing the decision on the confirmation of charges.
The ICC is an independent, permanent court that investigates and prosecutes individuals accused of the most serious crimes of international concerns, such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Prosecutors at the Court are currently probing events in four regions or countries: Darfur, northern Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Central African Republic (CAR).
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