, THE HAGUE, Dec 2 – The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court sought an arrest warrant on Friday for Sudan’s defence minister for military attacks on civilians in Darfur, his office said.
Luis Moreno-Ocampo asked ICC judges for a warrant for Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein – the fourth person to be accused of crimes committed in Darfur, where attacks against civilians continue, a statement said.
The warrant, if approved, would cover crimes against humanity and war crimes committed from August 2003 to March 2004.
Khartoum’s interior minister at the time, Hussein is wanted by the prosecutor for allegedly coordinating attacks against civilians in at least six villages in west Darfur.
The request follows warrants issued in February 2007 for Hussein’s deputy and Darfur security chief Ahmad Harun and Janjaweed militia leader Ali Kushayb, both wanted on 22 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes for directing attacks against Darfur’s civilians.
The villages were surrounded, bombed by the Sudanese air force, and then attacked by a combined force of Sudanese troops and Janjaweed militia.
“The evidence shows that this was a state policy supervised by Mr Hussein to ensure the coordination of attacks against civilians,” said Friday’s statement.
“The prosecutor considered that Mr Hussein should be arrested in order to prevent him from continuing with the commission of crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court,” it added.
“The prosecutor has decided to publicly seek a warrant against Mr Hussein to encourage further public focus on the government of Sudan’s policy and actions and promote cooperation in taking action to arrest Mr Hussein and the other individuals subject to ICC warrants.”
If granted, the warrant would bring to four the number of suspects on the run for crimes committed in Darfur.
Two others, rebel commanders for whom no warrants have been issued, appeared voluntarily before the court on war crimes charges in The Hague in June last year.
The court’s highest profile suspect is Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, wanted on three counts of genocide, five of crimes against humanity and two of war crimes for his role in the conflict.
The United Nations says up to 300,000 people have died since conflict broke out in Sudan’s western Darfur region in 2003, when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated regime for a greater share of resources and power.
Moreno-Ocampo accuses Bashir of having personally instructed his forces to annihilate three ethnic groups – the Fur, the Masalit and the Zaghawa.
The prosecutor says some four million people were uprooted from their homes, of whom 2.5 were still languishing in camps for displaced people today.