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Sudan: No suspects to be tried abroad

Sudanese President Umar al-Bashir has vowed not to hand over any of his countrymen to a foreign court, after the UN cleared the way for Darfur war crimes suspects to be tried by the International Criminal Court.

Last Modified: 02 Apr 2005 22:44 GMT
About 200 students gathered in the Sudanese capital

Sudanese President Umar al-Bashir has vowed not to hand over any of his countrymen to a foreign court, after the UN cleared the way for Darfur war crimes suspects to be tried by the International Criminal Court.

"I swear thrice in the name of Almighty Allah that I shall never hand any Sudanese national to a foreign court," said al-Bashir on Saturday in a speech to the ruling National Congress's consultative council.

The UN Security Council on Thursday passed a resolution allowing those suspected of carrying out war crimes in Sudan's Western Darfur region to be handed over to The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC).

The UN vote came after intense haggling, with Washington eventually ensuring that none of its nationals could be referred to the court, prompting accusations of double standards by Khartoum's representative.

Al-Bashir said the resolution was a failure for the UN because "it has ignored all norms of international legitimacy by exempting Americans from accountability just because America is a powerful state but, by God, we are more powerful".

He said any talk of handing over a Sudanese national to a foreign court was unacceptable as the Sudanese judiciary was competent, honest and just in its rulings.

Al-Bashir added that any Sudanese official who goes beyond his powers and jurisdictions and harms a Sudanese national will be brought to justice.

Opposition criticises government

The leader of a Sudanese opposition party blamed the government for provoking the Security Council's intervention.

"UN Security Council resolution 1593 about Darfur was not the first one, as there was a series of resolutions like 1556, 1564, 1574, 1590 and 1591 which the government should have dealt with seriously," Ahmad Abd al-Nabi, secretary-general of the Umma Party, told Aljazeera from Khartoum.

He said the idea of trials for suspects of crimes against humanity was not controversial but said the issue was one of national sovereignty.

The government and the people should deal with the resolution calmly because it has been endorsed by the highest international organisation, the UN Security Council, Abd al-Nabi said.

"And at the end, people want to know the truth and justice which the International Criminal Court could achieve," he said.

Demonstration

Hundreds of Sudanese students gathered to denounce a UN decision to refer those accused of war crimes in the Darfur region to the ICC.

Sudan's government on Friday dismissed the UN Security Council resolution, originally a French draft, which will refer to the ICC a sealed list of 51 people suspected of crimes against humanity during more than two years of rebellion in Darfur.

Last-minute wrangling allowed an exemption for US citizens and other nations that are not party to the court from prosecution during peacekeeping operations in Sudan.

Neither Sudan nor the United States has ratified the treaty establishing the ICC.

"Down, down USA"

The government-dominated student union organised the march, which began with speeches in Martyrs Square outside the Republican Palace denouncing the United States and France, and was to follow on to the French and British embassies and finally to the UN building in central Khartoum.

As many as 200 students chanted "Down, down USA", and called for the cutting of diplomatic relations with France. There were almost as many security and police as students.

About two million people have
fled their homes in Darfur

Organisers said the poor turnout was due to the holidays, as most students had gone home to their villages outside Khartoum.

"This UN resolution is not helping anyone solve the problem in Darfur," said Haitham Usman, the executive head of the Sudan student's union. "We totally reject it."

Students carried banners saying "Death and blasphemy to America" and slamming the UN resolution. Some shouted over loudspeakers: "The USA is the daughter of the devil" and "The Muslim people will never surrender".

Source:
Aljazeera + Agencies
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