Former Sudanese military commander says war crime charges against him are untrue
Ali Kushayb made his first appearance at the International Criminal Court in The Hague and denied litany of charges against him
A Sudanese military leader has denied charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity over the Darfur conflict in his first appearance before the International Criminal Court on Monday.
Ali Kushayb, 70, faces more than 50 charges relating to the devastating violence in the western Sudanese region.
It took more than 30 minutes for court officials to read all the allegations against him, which included war crimes, crimes against humanity, murdering civilians, destroying and burning villages, rape, pillage and forcible displacement.
He appeared via video link from a detention centre in The Hague dressed in a light grey suit and tie and was asked if he understood the charges against him.
"Yes I was informed of them (the charges) but this is untrue … they made me come here and I hope that I will get justice," Mr Kushayb said speaking in Arabic through an interpreter.
Mr Kushayb handed himself in earlier this month after a two-month journey to The Netherlands.
He had been on the run for 13 years since the initial warrant for his arrest was issued in 2007.
Judge Rosario Salvatore Aitala told the court that Monday's hearing was not a trial, only a formality to confirm the identity of Mr Kushayb, who is also known as Ali Muhammad Abdelrahman, and the charges against him.
"This is not the hearing for presenting your defence, you will have opportunities to do that. This is only the hearing for the judge to be satisfied that you have been informed of the charges," the judge told him.
A confirmation of charges hearing is now due to be heard at The Hague on December 7.
Through his legal team, Mr Kushayb asked the court to hold a minute's silence in memory of the victims of Dafur.
Judge Aitala refused his request.
"This is not the place to do this, we will all do this individually and we always think about the victims," he added.
The Darfur conflict broke out in 2003 when ethnic African rebels who complained of systematic discrimination took up arms against the government of longtime dictator Omar Al Bashir.
The state hit back with violence by the mostly Arab Janjaweed militias, a campaign that saw the ICC accuse Al Bashir of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
The United Nations says the conflict killed 300,000 people and displaced 2.5 million.
Al Bashir, who ruled Sudan for three decades, was deposed in April 2019 following months of protests in Sudan, and is also wanted by the ICC.
Mr Kushayb fled to the Central African Republic in February when the new Sudanese government announced its intention to co-operate with the ICC's investigation.
Published: June 15, 2020 04:44 PM