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Prosecutor Asks UN To Help Bring Darfur War Crimes Suspects To Justice


The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court is asking the U.N. Security Council to pressure Sudan to hand over two Darfur war crimes suspects for trial. From U.N. headquarters, VOA's Peter Heinlein reports one of the suspects is a serving Sudanese cabinet minister.

ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo Thursday described Sudan's Humanitarian Affairs Minister Ahmad Muhammad Harun and the government-backed Janjaweed militia leader Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman - known as Ali Kushayb - as the masterminds of a campaign of terror in Darfur.

Charges pending against the men at the international court in The Hague cover the period 2003 and 2004, when Harun was Sudan's Interior Minister.

Moreno-Ocampo called on the Security Council to take the lead in bringing the pair to justice. He noted that Sudan has taken no action to prosecute the case, even though ICC judges ruled in April that there is sufficient evidence to try both men for crimes against humanity and war crimes.

"The prosecution's case is concerned with Ahmad Harun and Ali Kushayb joining together as part of a systematic and organized initiative to attack civilian populations in Darfur," said Luis Moreno-Ocampo. "There is no investigation in the Sudan into such criminal conduct."

Sudanese authorities have repeatedly said they would not turn over the two men for trial. But Moreno-Ocampo expressed satisfaction that Security Council ambassadors would be raising the issue with Sudanese leaders next week during an official visit to Khartoum.

One of those envoys making the trip, America's U.N. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad warned Sudan of further sanctions unless it promptly accepts deployment of a joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur. Khalilzad says the penalties being considered include a prohibition of all Sudanese military flights to Darfur.

"If the Sudanese don't come to an agreement quickly, we intend to push for more multilateral sanctions," said Zalmay Khalilzad. "We are already discussing that with our British colleagues and others, so the steps we have to consider will include imposition of no-fly zone over Darfur. Time is running out."

President Bush also discussed sanctions against Sudan Thursday with his British counterpart, Prime Minister Tony Blair, on the sidelines of the G-Eight summit in Germany. Noting the slow pace of Security Council diplomacy on Darfur, Mr. Bush said he would push other nations to impose unilateral sanctions against Khartoum if the United Nations fails to do so.

The Bush administration tightened its own sanctions against Sudan last week in an effort to persuade the Khartoum government to end the violence in Darfur.

Western experts say more than 200,000 people have been killed in Darfur and at least two million others forced from their homes since 2003. Khartoum, however, disputes those estimates, saying the actual death toll is far lower.