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ICC Issues Arrest Warrant for Sudan Defense Minister

The International Criminal Court has issued a warrant for the arrest of Sudan's defense minister, Abdel Raheem Muhammed Hussein.

The court said Thursday that Hussein is wanted for 41 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the conflict in Sudan's Darfur region.

Specific charges include murder, rape, forcible transfer, torture, destruction of property, pillaging and attacks against civilians.

ICC prosecutors have accused Hussein of coordinating air and ground attacks against villages in Darfur between August 2003 and March 2004.

The ICC says Sudanese government forces and allied militia deliberately targeted members of the ethnic Fur group.

It says the plan for the attacks was formulated at the highest levels of Sudan's government and that Hussein, who was minister of the interior at the time, made "essential contributions."

Sudan does not recognize the ICC and has dismissed the prosecutors' charges against Hussein as politically motivated.

Three other Sudanese are wanted by the ICC for alleged crimes in Darfur, including President Omar al-Bashir.

Bashir has flouted the ICC arrest warrant by continuing to travel abroad, though only to countries that are not signatories to the ICC, or where authorities are unlikely to arrest him.

Darfur rebels launched their uprising against Sudan's central government in 2003, accusing Khartoum of neglecting their region.  The United Nations estimates the conflict has killed some 300,000 people and displaced more than 2.5 million.

Low-level fighting continues to this day, mostly between the government and the rebel Justice and Equality Movement.

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