Sudanese War Crimes Suspect Arrested After 13 Years on the Run

Sudanese War Crimes Suspect Arrested After 13 Years on the Run

Sudanese War Crimes Suspect Arrested After 13 Years on the Run

Sudanese War Crimes Suspect Arrested After 13 Years on the Run

BANGUI, Central African Republic — A Sudanese militia leader who is charged with 50 crimes against humanity and war crimes related to the conflict in Darfur, has been arrested more than 13 years after a warrant was issued for him, the authorities said Tuesday.

Ali Kushayb, the militia leader, surrendered to the authorities in a remote corner of northern Central African Republic, near the country’s border with Sudan, the International Criminal Court spokesman Fadi El Abdallah said. The court said in a statement that it was detaining Mr. Kushayb, but didn’t immediately elaborate on where he was being held.

In the Darfur conflict, rebels from the territory’s ethnic central and sub-Saharan African community launched an insurgency in 2003, complaining of oppression by the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum.

The government responded with a scorched-earth assault of aerial bombings and unleashed militias known as the janjaweed, who are accused of mass killings and rapes. Up to 300,000 people were killed and 2.7 million were driven from their homes.

Mr. Kushayb is accused of commanding thousands of janjaweed militia in 2003-04 and of acting as a go-between for the militia and the Sudanese government. The court says he “personally participated in some of the attacks against civilians” and allegedly “enlisted fighters, armed, funded and provided food and other supplies to the janjaweed militia under his command.”

Among the offenses listed on his arrest warrant are murder, rape, persecution and pillage.

No immediate date was set for Mr. Kushayb to appear before the court. He faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment if convicted.

The attorney general of the Central African Republic, Eric Didier Tambo, confirmed to The Associated Press that Mr. Kushayb had been extradited to The Hague in the Netherlands on Tuesday after having been brought to Bangui the day before.

An International Criminal Court arrest warrant was issued for Mr. Kushayb in 2007.

Mr. Kushayb and former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir evaded arrest on war crimes charges for more than a decade amid reluctance by other African nations to carry out arrest warrants.

Mr. al-Bashir, who is accused of crimes including genocide, traveled abroad freely and it was not until after he was deposed last year that Sudanese authorities agreed to extradite him to The Hague. However, the ex-president has not yet been turned over to the International Criminal Court.

Human Rights Watch welcomed Mr. Kushayb’s detention.

“Today is a landmark day for justice for victims of atrocities committed across Darfur and their families,” said Elise Keppler, associate director of the group’s International Justice Program. “The world watched in horror as Sudan’s government carried out brutal attacks on Darfur civilians, killing, raping, burning and looting villages, starting in 2003. But after 13 years, justice has finally caught up with one major fugitive of the crimes.

Mr. Kushayb’s arrest underscored the role of the International Criminal Court, which has faced fierce criticism from the United States.

“Justice is not always immediately possible, making the I.C.C.’s role as a permanent court so critical,” she said. “I.C.C. arrest warrants have no expiration date, but do rely on cooperation from states to be enforced.”

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