Abu Garda escapes ICC trial

10 February 2010 by Thijs Bouwknegt

The ICC declined to confirm charges against Sudanese rebel leader Bahar Idriss Abu Garda on Monday, citing a lack of evidence. Abu Garda was accused of directing an attack that killed a dozen African Union peacekeepers in Sudan’s strife-torn Darfur region in 2007. Prosecutors say they will appeal the decision.

The court’s pre-trial chamber refused to move the case forward to trial, saying it “was not satisfied that there was sufficient evidence to establish substantial grounds to believe that Bahar Idriss Abu Garda could be held criminally responsible either as a direct or as an indirect co-perpetrator for the commission of the crimes.”

The judges noted that Monday’s decision does not preclude the prosecution from requesting the confirmation of the charges against Abu Garda at a later date, “if such request is supported by additional evidence.”

Haskanita attack
Abu Garda commands the United Resistance Front, a splinter group of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement. He was the first person to appear voluntarily before the court in The Hague in response to a summons last May and was allowed to return to Darfur after his initial appearance.

Prosecutors sought to charge him with three war crimes: murder, attacks against a peacekeeping mission and pillaging. They charged that the crimes were committed when 1,000 rebels attacked the African Union’s Haskanita camp in South Darfur state on 29 September 2007.

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