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Ousted Leader Of Sudan To Face War Crimes Charges In The Hague

Feb 12, 2020
Originally published on February 12, 2020 7:36 am
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Sudan appears poised to hand over its former dictator, Omar al-Bashir, to the International Criminal Court. He has eluded authorities since an international arrest warrant was issued in 2009. He's facing charges of war crimes and genocide for his actions in Darfur. NPR's Eyder Peralta reports.

EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: Omar al-Bashir, who ruled Sudan for three decades, was ousted in a military coup last year. But what to do with him has been one of the most thorny issues. This is what Sudan's civilian leader, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, told NPR when he was asked back in December if Bashir would be sent to The Hague.

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PRIME MINISTER ABDALLA HAMDOK: Bashir right now as we speak - he's also undergoing prosecution. And the list of the court cases are very long.

PERALTA: Hamdok was walking a fine line. Southerners who suffered under Bashir want him tried by the ICC. But the military, which still holds most of the power in Sudan and whose members fear their own prosecution, has preferred to try Bashir at home. But things changed dramatically yesterday.

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MOHAMMED HASSAN AL-TAISHI: (Non-English language spoken).

PERALTA: During negotiations with southern Sudanese rebel groups, Mohammed Hassan al-Taishi, a high-profile member of Sudan's transitional government, said anyone facing charges will appear before the ICC.

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AL-TAISHI: (Non-English language spoken).

PERALTA: "We can't achieve justice," he said, "without justice itself." But Taishi did not mention Bashir by name. And two government officials speaking on background because they were not authorized to speak to the press said this does not necessarily mean Sudan would hand over Bashir. Instead, it could mean that Bashir might appear before the court from Sudan's capital, Khartoum, where he is being held. Taishi, however, was very clear in an interview with the BBC.

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AL-TAISHI: We agreed that we supported the four criminals wanted to be handed to the ICC.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Who are the people to be handed over to ICC? Can you name them?

AL-TAISHI: Well, one of them is al-Bashir, yes.

PERALTA: Sudan's information minister did not respond to multiple calls and messages seeking clarification.

Eyder Peralta, NPR News, Nairobi.

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