Prosecutor: Sudan Not Cooperating In Darfur War Crimes Investigation

By Colum Lynch
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 6, 2007

UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 5 -- An international criminal prosecutor accused Sudan on Wednesday of violating a March 2005 U.N. Security Council resolution requiring it to cooperate with his investigation into war crimes in Darfur.

He also said he is launching probes into ongoing government attacks against civilians and a surge in rebel violence against peacekeepers and aid workers.

"We are witnessing a calculated organized campaign by Sudanese officials to attack individuals and further destroy the social fabric of entire communities," Luis Moreno-Ocampo, chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, told the council. "All information points not to chaotic and isolated acts but to a pattern of attacks."

Moreno-Ocampo, a former Argentine prosecutor, said Sudan has repeatedly ignored requests to arrest or surrender two prominent officials charged by the Hague-based court with orchestrating the mass killing of civilians in Darfur between 2003 and 2004: Ahmad Harun, Sudan's minister of state for humanitarian affairs, and Ali Kushyab, the leader of a government-sponsored militia.

Moreno-Ocampo said Khartoum has granted Harun increasing authority, including responsibility for overseeing the protection of displaced civilians and the deployment of thousands of international peacekeepers in Darfur. Harun even accompanied Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on a tour of Darfur in June.

"The government of Sudan is not cooperating with my office or the court," Moreno-Ocampo told the Security Council. "While the Sudan continues to publicly insist that it is willing and able to prosecute those responsible for serious crimes, they have done nothing."

Sudan's U.N. ambassador, Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamad, accused Moreno-Ocampo of concocting the "mother of all fabrications" and resorting to "lies." He warned that Moreno-Ocampo's public condemnation of the government threatened to "spoil the peace process" in Sudan. "We in no way are going to surrender our citizens to be tried" by the court, he said. "If there are any accusations against our people, the judiciary is more than capable of doing that."

American diplomat Jeffrey DeLaurentis praised Moreno-Ocampo's report, saying "the United States believes strongly in the need for accountability for acts of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur." The Bush administration has long opposed the International Criminal Court over concerns that it might seek to conduct politically motivated prosecutions of U.S. soldiers.

The latest surge of violence in Darfur began in February 2003, when two rebel groups took up arms against the Islamic government. The government responded with a brutal counterinsurgency campaign that has driven more than 2.5 million civilians from their homes and claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands more.

Moreno-Ocampo said he is expanding his investigation to determine who is protecting Harun and who bears "greatest responsibility" for ongoing attacks against civilians, citing an Oct. 8 raid by Sudanese troops and allied militias in which 48 civilians were "rounded up and slaughtered" while praying in a mosque in the town of Muhajiriya. He also said he would investigate reports that the government has forcibly relocated displaced civilians and resettled their villages with families of the Janjaweed militia.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company