Janjaweed militia leader visits International Criminal Court

The International Criminal Court in The Hague, in January 2019.

End of the run for one of the oldest criminals prosecuted by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Ali Muhammad All Abd-Al-Rahman, known as Ali Kushayb, a Janjaweed militia leader, was transferred from the Central African Republic to the International Criminal Court in The Hague on Wednesday June 9. He is suspected of crimes against humanity and war crimes for murder, deportation, torture, rape, persecution, intentional attack on civilians, looting, destruction.

According to the arrest warrant issued in late April 2007 by the ICC, Ali Kushayb is said to have, in 2003 and 2004, ” enlisted, armed, financed and supplied the janjawids placed under his command “, And” personally participated in certain attacks against civilians ” The militia was allied with government forces in the war which, in the early 2000s, opposed Khartoum to several rebel movements. A conflict that, according to the UN, has left 300,000 dead and 2.5 million displaced.

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The ” colonel of colonels Finally decided to go to court. Since the end of May, things had accelerated on the side of the prosecutor’s office in The Hague, remobilized on this thirteen-year-old case. On several occasions in recent years, the prosecutor’s office had been in contact, via intermediaries, with Ali Kushayb.

Because, even before the fall of the Al-Bashir regime, at the head of Sudan, the Janjaweed chief went to the Central African Republic, three to four times a year, for his ivory trade with the Lord’s Resistance Army ( LRA) by Joseph Kony, notably enabling him to finance his battles in Darfur.

Suspected of crossing the border

Three years ago, in delicacy with Al-Bashir’s regime, he himself approached the ICC’s prosecutor’s office through one of his relatives. A discussion about his surrender followed in The Hague, a source close to the court said, the fugitive claiming that the $ 5 million bonus offered for his arrest by the US State Department be paid to his family. Three years later, the Janjaweed chief finally gave in.

Since February, there has been rumor of the presence of Ali Kushayb in the Birao area, in the north-east of the country, on the border with Chad and Sudan. Was the former Janjaweed commander going to offer his services to one of the armed groups that continue to tear each other apart in the north of the country? Did he want to set up his own criminal organization in the Central African Republic?

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The links between the politico-military unrest that continues to poison the Central African Republic and the border Darfur crisis are not new and rumors have been rife in recent months, especially as arms trafficking, illegal export of diamonds, the pillaging and raids that dominate the region have never stopped for decades.

According to the United Nations group of experts, there are close ties between different ethnic groups on both sides of the border. Ali Kushayb was among the main commanders suspected of having crossed the border. Especially since, since the fall of the regime of Omar Al-Bashir in Sudan, his former proxies from Darfur, who supported the Sudanese dictator to the end by suppressing in blood the protests of spring 2019 in Khartoum, are not more in the little papers of the new regime.

Seven arrest warrants

In 2003 and 2004, Ali Kushayb was one of the most senior and well-known leaders in the Wadi Salih tribal hierarchy in West Darfur. At the head of ” tens of thousands “Of militiamen, integrated into the People’s Defense Forces, linked to the Sudanese army, he is said to have” personally led »Several attacks. The attacks were not targeted specifically at rebel movements, the prosecutor’s office said, but were directed against villagers accused of supporting them.

This strategy has become the justification for mass murders, summary executions, and rapes of civilians Who were not involved in the armed conflict, according to the arrest warrant. This has resulted in the forced displacement of entire villages.

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The ICC opened an investigation into the crimes in Darfur in June 2005, after being seized by the United Nations Security Council. Sudan has not ratified the Court’s treaty, but had initially shown a semblance of cooperation, while hoping to be able to corrupt the Court’s investigators, a source in The Hague recalls.

With the announcement in July 2008 of the upcoming indictment of Omar Al-Bashir for genocide and crimes against humanity, the dictator has no longer supported the UN Security Council nor lent the l ‘ear to the arrests concerning the hindrances of Khartoum to any arrest.

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Since 2005, the Court has issued seven arrest warrants for four prominent figures in the military-Islamic regime of Omar Al-Bashir, including himself, and three rebels from Darfur. Overthrown in April 2019, the former president was convicted of corruption in December and sentenced to two years in prison by a Khartoum court.

In February, the Sudanese transitional government announced its intention to hand him over to the ICC after all proceedings against him in the country have been completed, as have the other suspects targeted by The Hague, two former ministers Ahmed Harun and Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein. With Ali Kushayb’s upcoming appearance, prosecutor Fatou Bensouda will need the cooperation of the new Sudanese authorities. But according to several sources in The Hague, Khartoum has not yet expressed its approval.

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