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ICC arrests Sudan militia leader for war crimes

June 9, 2020

Ali Kushayb, who led state-backed militias in Darfur, has been charged with 50 war crimes and crimes against humanity. His arrest was dubbed "a great success for the ICC and its efforts to get justice for the victims."

The International Criminal Court, or ICC, in The Hague, Netherlands. File photo from 2019.
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/P. Dejong

The International Criminal Court (ICC) announced on Tuesday that Sudanese militia leader Ali Kushayb had surrendered to authorities in the Central African Republic and was now in its custody.

"Mr. Kushayb is suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Darfur," said an ICC statement. "The initial appearance of Mr. Kushayb before the ICC … will take place in due course."

Kushayb, who led notorious state-backed militias in a brutal campaign through Darfur, has been charged with at least 50 crimes against humanity and war crimes. He is "alleged to have personally participated in some of the attacks against civilians," according to the ICC.

The Netherlands' representative to the ICC described the arrest as "a great success for the ICC and its efforts to get justice for the victims of the crimes committed in Darfur."

'Raping, burning and looting'

In 2003, rebel groups comprising ethnic central and sub-Saharan African communities launched an insurgency against the Sudanese state following years of oppression by Khartoum.

In response, the Arab-dominated Sudanese government launched a brutal crackdown, including aerial bombardment. It supported Janjaweed militias, which are accused of mass killings and using rape as a weapon of war, in wreaking havoc in the restive region.

Read more:  Darfur ethnic violence endangers Sudan's peace plan

The UN estimates that about 300,000 people were killed and more than 2.7 million people displaced as a result of the government's scorched-earth policy in Darfur.

The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Kushayb in 2007, and two years later for then-President Omar al-Bashir for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed during the Darfur conflict.

"The world watched in horror as Sudan's government carried out brutal attacks on Darfur civilians, killing, raping, burning and looting villages, starting in 2003," said Elise Keppler of Human Rights Watch. "But after 13 years, justice has finally caught up with one major fugitive of the crimes."

ls/msh (Reuters, AFP)

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