Monday, February 8, 2010
International Criminal Court Declines to Confirm Charges Against the First Defendant Who Voluntarily Appeared Before It
The International Criminal Court has just declined to confirm charges against a rebel leader accused of directing the September 2007 attack that killed a dozen African Union peacekeepers in Darfur. 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 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.
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. ICC Prosecutors 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).
(adapted from a UN Press Release)