[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 February 2007, 19:25 GMT
Sudan defiant on Darfur suspects
Sudanese displaced from Darfur by the conflict
Some two million have been displaced by the Darfur conflict
Sudan says it will not hand over two men named by prosecutors at the International Criminal Court as war crimes suspects in the Darfur region.

The ICC named Humanitarian Affairs Minister Ahmed Haroun and Janjaweed militia leader Ali Muhammad Ali Abd al-Rahman, also known as Ali Kushayb.

Sudan said the ICC had no jurisdiction to try Sudanese and that its own courts were capable of prosecuting suspects.

Some 200,000 people have died in a four-year conflict in Darfur.

'Rape and torture'

The two men are suspected of 51 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said.

They include crimes committed during attacks on villages near Kodoom, Bindisi, Mukjar and Arawala in West Darfur.

Map of Darfur region

Sudanese Justice Minister Mohammed Ali al-Mardi said: "We are not concerned with, nor do we accept, what the International Criminal Court prosecutor has opted for."

He added: "All the evidence the prosecutor referred to is lies given to him by people who bear arms against the state, bear arms against citizens and kill innocent citizens in Darfur."

Sudan is not a signatory to the convention under which the ICC was established and has repeatedly said it will not abide by any indictments or rulings.

The BBC's Jonah Fisher in Khartoum says Ali Kushayb was a leader of the Janjaweed during the early years of the conflict, which has forced more than two million people to flee their homes.

According to ICC prosecutors, he commanded thousands of men and ordered them to rape, torture and kill the local population.

But our correspondent says it is the naming of Ahmed Haroun that will have wider repercussions.

Mr Haroun had responsibility for Darfur in 2003 and 2004 and according to the ICC was responsible for organising and funding the Janjaweed.

'Criminal responsibility'

Mr Moreno-Ocampo asked judges to issue summonses for the two men, saying there was reason to believe they bore "criminal responsibility for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Darfur in 2003 and 2004".

Luis Moreno-Ocampo
We hope that the work of the entire court will help to ensure the end of impunity for the crimes committed in Darfur
Luis Moreno-Ocampo
ICC chief prosecutor

The attackers, he said, "did not target any rebel presence. Rather they targeted civilian residents based on the rationale that they were supporters of the rebel forces".

The strategy, Mr Moreno-Ocampo added, "became the justification for the mass murder, summary execution and mass rape of civilians who were known not to be participant in any armed conflict".

He said: "Ahmad Haroun visited Darfur on a regular basis and became known to people in Darfur as the official from Khartoum who recruits, staffs and arms the Janjaweed.

"The evidence shows that Ahmad Haroun provided arms for the Janjaweed from a budget that was unlimited and not publicly audited."

After Mr Moreno-Ocampo has filed the evidence of alleged war crimes with the court, its judges will have to decide whether to open an inquiry against the suspects with the aim of issuing international arrest warrants.

UN Human Rights Commissioner Louise Arbour said she hoped Tuesday's developments would be a "strong deterrent" against more bloodshed.

She said she expected more charges to be brought against both government and rebel officials.

The United States has urged Sudan to cooperate fully with the ICC.

Refugees struggling in Darfur

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific