[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 February 2007, 13:23 GMT
Darfur war crimes suspect defiant
Ahmed Haroun
Ahmed Haroun was responsible for Darfur in 2003 and 2004
Sudan's humanitarian affairs minister, accused of war crimes in Darfur by the International Criminal Court (ICC), has said the move against him is political.

Ahmed Haroun said he "did not feel guilty", his conscience was clear and that he was ready to defend himself.

The ICC accuses Mr Haroun and a Janjaweed militia leader, known as Ali Kushayb, of 51 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

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

"I am not worried at all and I do not feel guilty because I acted within the legal framework and in accordance with the general interest," Mr Haroun told AFP news agency.

Mr Haroun was the former interior minister in charge of Darfur and according to the ICC was responsible for organising and funding the Arab militia known as the Janjaweed.

Ali Kushayb is accused of ordering the murder, torture and mass rape against innocent civilians during attacks on villages near Kodoom, Bindisi Mukjar and Arawala in west Darfur.

Next steps

The United States has urged Sudan to co-operate fully with the ICC, but Sudan says it will not hand over the two suspects as the ICC has no jurisdiction to try its citizens and its courts are capable of prosecuting the suspects.

ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis 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".

Map of Darfur region

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."

ICC judges will now have to decide whether to open an inquiry against the suspects with the aim of issuing international arrest warrants, after Mr Moreno-Ocampo filed evidence against the two suspects.

More than 2m civilians have fled their homes, with most now staying in insecure camps supported by humanitarian agencies, who complain of frequent harassment from the Sudanese authorities.

Aid agencies are now said to be assessing how viable their operations may be following the ICC's intervention.

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