ICC: Sudanese suspects wanted by court must face justice

The ICC has sought to try Al Bashir and others for alleged war crimes in Darfur for a decade

FILE PHOTO: Public Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda attends the trial for Malian Islamist militant Al-Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud at the ICC (International Criminal Court) in the Hague, the Netherlands July 8,2019. REUTERS/Eva Plevier/Pool/File Photo/File Photo

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said during a visit to Sudan on Tuesday that Sudanese suspects wanted by the court must face justice over alleged crimes in Darfur.

Options for prosecuting the suspects, who include ousted leader Omar Al Bashir, were being discussed with Sudanese authorities, Fatou Bensouda told reporters.

The Darfur conflict erupted in 2003 when ethnic minority rebels took up arms, accusing Khartoum of political and economic marginalisation of their vast region.

The United Nations estimates 300,000 people were killed and 2.5 million displaced in the conflict in western Sudan.

Sudanese officials have held talks with the visiting ICC team since Saturday on options for trying Al Bashir over Darfur, including his handover or the formation of a hybrid court.

The ICC has sought to try Al Bashir and others for alleged war crimes in Darfur for a decade.

Al Bashir held power for 30 years until his overthrow on April 11, 2019 following unprecedented mass youth-led street demonstrations.

It is the first time in modern Arab history that the leader of a coup has been put on trial.

Ms Bensouda's comments came as the trial of Al Bashir and others over a 1989 coup heard defence arguments dismissing charges of illegal use of military force.

The ex-president and 27 others are being tried in Khartoum accused of plotting the 1989 Islamist-backed military coup that brought him to power.

Defence lawyers in the latest hearing refuted accusations by Sudan's prosecutor general Tagelsir Al Hebr against Bashir and the other defendants.

Mr Al Hebr has accused them of multiple charges including undermining constitutional order and using military force to commit a crime.

If convicted, Bashir and his co-accused -- including former top officials -- could face the death penalty.

Since his ouster, Bashir has been jailed in Khartoum's high security Kober prison and was found guilty last December of corruption.