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New Sudanese Court to Try Darfur Crimes Suspects

Demonstrators protesting against UN Security Council resolution referring Darfur war crimes suspects to International Criminal Court, march in central Khartoum, Saturday April 2, 2005
The Sudanese government launched a new court this week to try suspects accused of committing war crimes in Darfur.

The director-general of the government-run Sudan News Agency, Rabia Abdel Attie, tells VOA the new court is based in Nyala, Darfur.

He says the court is expected to hear more than 100 cases, collect evidence, and listen to any allegations or complaints about war crimes in Darfur.

"It is from the jurisdiction and the authority of the government, and according to Sudan laws, to investigate any crimes committed against citizens," he said. "This is the responsibility of Sudan government."

Mr. Attie says the new court proves that the Sudanese justice system is qualified to investigate and try war crimes. He says he thinks the new court will bring peace and stability to Darfur.

The creation of the court comes one week after the Hague-based International Criminal Court announced that it is investigating allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and possibly even genocide committed in Darfur.

Earlier in the year, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan submitted, to the International Criminal Court, a list of 51 suspects of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The Sudanese government has said it would not hand over any of its nationals to the ICC and that the Sudanese government was capable of investigating and trying cases, a view echoed by the Sudan News Agency's Mr. Attie.

"Whenever the people by themselves and the government succeeds to put each and everything in its proper position, [there is] no need for any interference from ICC or any other foreign body," he said.

The international human-rights group Amnesty International released a statement Monday saying that the new court was "doomed to failure" unless Sudan "undergoes serious legal reforms ensuring independence of the judiciary and ends the current climate of intimidation."

The group accused the Sudanese government of cracking down on people who expose or criticize human-rights violations, especially those condoned by the government.

The two-year-old Darfur conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and has displaced over 1.5 million more.