Sudan opens Darfur crimes probe against al-Bashir-era figures

Khartoum launches investigation into crimes committed in the Darfur region since 2003.

    The conflict in Darfur between pro-government forces and ethnic minority rebels left around 300,000 people dead and 2.5 million displaced, according to the UN [Albert Gonzalez Farran/AP]
    The conflict in Darfur between pro-government forces and ethnic minority rebels left around 300,000 people dead and 2.5 million displaced, according to the UN [Albert Gonzalez Farran/AP]

    Sudan has opened an investigation into crimes committed in the Darfur region by members of the government of former president Omar al-Bashir, the state prosecutor has said.

    The conflict between pro-government forces and ethnic minority rebels left around 300,000 people dead and 2.5 million displaced, according to the United Nations.

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    "We have launched an investigation into the crimes committed in Darfur from 2003," prosecutor Tagelsir al-Heber said on his arrival in Khartoum on Sunday after a trip to the United Arab Emirates.

    He added that these were "cases against former regime officials" tied to Bashir, who is sought by the International Criminal Court for his role in the Darfur conflict.

    Warrants for the former leader's arrest were issued by the ICC in 2009 and 2010 on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity but al-Bashir has not been extradited to The Hague, the seat of the ICC.

    Heber also said that proceedings had been launched against Salah Gosh, former intelligence chief under al-Bashir.

    "There four cases against Salah Gosh and we started a procedure to bring him (back to Sudan) by Interpol," Heber said.

    Gosh, head of the feared National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), resigned in April two days after the ouster of al-Bashir, and is now outside of Sudan.

    Sudan's new transitional government, brought to power after the protest movement toppled al-Bashir, has vowed to establish peace in conflict-hit regions, including Darfur.

    On December 14, al-Bashir was sentenced by a court in Khartoum to two years' detention in a correctional centre for corruption in the first of several cases against him.

    Al-Bashir is also being investigated for his role in the 1989 coup that brought him to power.

    SOURCE: AFP news agency