Sudan to hand Bashir to ICC for Darfur crimes

In this file photo taken on December 30, 2018 Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir speaks during a meeting with police officials at the headquarters of the "police house" in the capital Khartoum. (AFP)
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Updated 12 February 2020

Sudan to hand Bashir to ICC for Darfur crimes

  • The ICC has charged Bashir and three of his former aides with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Sudan’s western region

KHARTOUM: Sudan has agreed to hand ousted autocrat Omar Al-Bashir and others to the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes in Darfur, a member of Khartoum’s ruling body said Tuesday.
The Hague-based ICC has charged Bashir and three of his former aides with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Sudan’s western region during a brutal conflict from 2003.
“Those who have been indicted by the ICC, they have to go there,” Mohamed Hassan Al-Taishay, a member of the ruling sovereign council said, without mentioning their names.
His remarks, quoted in a statement issued by the sovereign council in Khartoum, came as a government delegation met rebel groups in the South Sudanese capital of Juba.
Taishay said the talks focused on justice and reconciliation in Darfur, where the United Nations says about 300,000 people have been killed and millions displaced since the conflict erupted.
Taishay said they had agreed several mechanisms for achieving peace in the region.
“First, all those who have been indicted by the ICC should appear before the ICC,” he said.
“Second, a special court be set up to investigate crimes committed in Darfur.”
The conflict in Darfur, the size of France, erupted when ethnic minority African rebels took up arms against Bashir’s then Arab-dominated government, accusing it of marginalizing the region economically and politically.
The ICC has charged Bashir with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in the conflict.
It has also indicted three of his former aides, Ahmed Haroon, Abdulrahim Mohamed Hussain and Ali Kushied.
“We cannot achieve justice unless we treat the suffering of the victims because this is a truth that we can’t escape from,” Taishay said.
“In Darfur, crimes against humanity and war crimes have been committed.”
Bashir has denied the charges.
Bashir was ousted by the army in a palace coup last April after months of protests against his iron-fisted rule of three decades.
He was detained following his ouster and has since been jailed on corruption charges.
Anti-Bashir protesters, residents of Darfur and rebel groups from the region have consistently demanded that the ousted ruler be handed over to the ICC.
For years before his ouster and despite the ICC indictments, Bashir had regularly visited regional countries as well as Russia and China.
Days before the protests erupted in December 2018, he visited Syria’s President Bashar Assad in Damascus, becoming the first Arab leader to do so since the Syrian conflict began in 2011.
In 2018, Bashir helped broker a tentative peace deal in South Sudan after five years of intense conflict in the world’s newest country, which won independence from Khartoum in 2011.


Lebanon repatriates nationals in rare flights despite virus

Updated 9 min 26 sec ago

Lebanon repatriates nationals in rare flights despite virus

  • Health personnel in protective gear took the temperature of disembarking passengers
  • Authorities said more than 20,000 had signed up to be repatriated in total this week and at the end of the month

BEIRUT: Lebanon on Sunday started repatriating nationals stranded abroad in its first flight in weeks since it closed its international airport to stem the novel coronavirus.
The first of four planes touched down at the Beirut international airport late Sunday morning bringing in 78 passengers from Riyadh, local television reported.
It showed health personnel in protective gear taking the temperature of disembarking passengers.
The Mediterranean country announced a lockdown and closed its airport on March 18 as part of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, which has officially infected 527 people and killed 18 nationwide.
An AFP photographer saw a dozen buses outside the airport waiting to transport the passengers.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab had arrived earlier amid heavy deployment of the Lebanese army, he said.
Authorities said more than 20,000 had signed up to be repatriated in total this week and at the end of the month.
Lebanese carrier Middle East Airlines has said flights would also land in Beirut on Sunday from Abu Dhabi, Lagos and Abidjan.
It has also announced return trips to Paris, Madrid and Kinshasa on Tuesday.
Lebanese returning home must either test negative for the virus no longer than three days before their return, or be tested immediately upon arrival, according to government guidelines.
They must pay for their own ticket and their families are not allowed to meet them at the airport.
The government has said priority will be given to those with critical health conditions such as diabetes or cancer, those aged over 60 and under 18, and families.
But critics have complained of steep ticket fares, while a financial crisis has severely restricted transactions from Lebanese bank accounts.
Coronavirus is the latest crisis to hit Lebanon, which is already reeling under a crumbling economy.
Due to an acute liquidity crisis, banks have since September increasingly been restricting access to dollars and have halted money transfers abroad.
On Monday, however, the banking association agreed to allow dollar transfers to Lebanese students outside the country to help them face the coronavirus pandemic, the finance ministry said.
Diab on Sunday told reporters the government was studying the possibility of supporting returning Lebanese students with a ticket.
Lebanese expatriates and activists have clamoured online for MEA to lower the price of its tickets and help those who can’t afford it.
The airline on Friday claimed tickets were more expensive — $650 for an economy class seat from Riyadh and $1,800 for a cheaper fare from Abidjan for example — because planes would be empty on the way out to evacuations.