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Darfur Rebel Leaders Face Judges at The Hague


Two men accused of war crimes in Darfur have appeared before judges in The Hague.

"In both suspects, Mr. Banda and Mr. Jerbo, who appeared today before the judges of the International Criminal Court are suspected of having committed war crimes in Darfur, Sudan," said Sonja Robla, Chief of Public Information at the International Criminal Court.

Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain and Saleh Mohammed Jerbo Jamus are accused of commanding a rebel force in a 2007 attack against African Union peacekeepers. It is alleged that the attackers killed 12 soldiers and wounded eight others and also looted vehicles, computers, ammunition and other goods from the African Union base they attacked.

The two men appeared in court voluntarily and said they are revolutionaries, ready to face justice.

The case is part of a broader push to try those responsible for the conflict in Darfur. The United Nations says 300,000 people have died in the war in Darfur since 2003. Khartoum says 10,000 have died.

November 22 is the date set for the next hearings, which will confirm whether the prosecutor has enough evidence to bring the case to trial.

But Banda and Jerbo are free to return to Sudan, says Robla.

"They are free. They came on a voluntary basis and they are not arrested, they are not under custody of the court, they were free to leave the court after they appeared this morning before the judges and they have the right to go back wherever they want to go," said Robla.

Sudanese rebel leader Bahr Idris Abu Garda appeared at the court voluntarily last year and was cleared of charges.

The court has also issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir but he has refused to appear before the court.

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