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ICC's Fatou Bensouda heads to Sudan to discuss Bashir case

By AFP | October 19th 2020


International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda was due to arrive Saturday in Sudan to discuss the potential extradition of former president Omar al-Bashir, the government said.

The toppled autocrat is wanted by the ICC on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity in the western region of Darfur.

A delegation led by Bensouda "will discuss cooperation between the International Criminal Court and Sudan regarding the accused, against whom the court has issued arrest warrants," a statement from the office of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said.

Hamdok's office said that the delegation would stay until October 21 and meet with senior Sudanese officials.

A spokesman from the ICC prosecutor's office confirmed that "Bensouda and a delegation from her office will be in Khartoum for the next few days to discuss ICC-Sudan cooperation."

A Sudanese government source told AFP that Bensouda would "discuss the extradition" of Bashir and others to the ICC.

Bashir ruled with an iron fist for 30 years until his overthrow in April 2019, following mass youth-led street demonstrations.

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The United Nations estimates 300,000 people were killed and 2.5 million displaced in the Darfur conflict from 2003.

Peace deal

Sudan's transitional government has agreed that Bashir would stand trial before the ICC.

However, in a peace deal finalised earlier this month, the government agreed to set up a special court for crimes in Darfur and that Bashir should also face that court.

Hamdok told the Financial Times earlier this month that he had spoken with the ICC about the option of trying Bashir in Sudan, potentially in a "hybrid court".

Bashir, 76, is in custody in Khartoum's tough Kober prison.

He was convicted last December for corruption and is now on trial in Khartoum for the 1989 coup that brought him to power.

If convicted Bashir and 27 other co-accused -- including former top officials -- could face the death penalty.

Two other suspects, Ahmed Haroun, the ex-governor of South Kordofan state, and Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein, a former defence minister, also face ICC charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Both are in custody in Sudan.

In June, Ali Kushayb, the head of the Janjaweed militia accused of carrying out some of the worst atrocities in Darfur, surrendered to the ICC and is now in custody.

A fifth man wanted by the ICC, rebel leader Abdallah Banda, remains at large.

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