Two suspects wanted for their alleged connection to an attack on African Union peacekeepers in Darfur surrendered and are awaiting trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, according to media reports today. It was good news for the ICC, which is often ridiculed for its inability to apprehend suspects, (unfairly, it must be said, since member states in fact bear this responsibility).
The suspects, Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain and Saleh Mohammed Jerbo Jamus, appeared at the court on their own accord, just days after the ICC unsealed a summons for them to appear.
According to court documents, the suspects commanded two of Darfur’s rebel groups and are accused of orchestrating an attack by a 1,000-strong rebel force on the peacekeepers base in 2007. Twelve peacekeepers were killed in the attack and eight others were severely wounded. Banda and Jerbo face three counts of war crimes.
The case is the fourth taken up by the ICC in relation to the conflict in Darfur but only the second in which a suspect has appeared in court. In 2009, Darfur rebel leader Bahar Idriss Abu Garda surrendered to the ICC but the pre-trial chamber found that inadequate evidence existed to confer the charges against him. It’s hard not to wonder how Abu Garda’s dismissal may have factored into the expectations of this latest pair.
On the other hand, suspects are still at-large – and defiant – in the ICC’s most high-profile Darfur cases, in which President Bashir, the current minister for humanitarian affairs, and the alleged leader of the janjaweed militias stand accused.
Banda and Jerbo will appear before the pre-trial chamber tomorrow, setting in motion the court’s process to decide whether substantial evidence exists to proceed to trial.