Darfur militia leader Ali Kushayb is in the custody of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and faces charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity after surrendering to authorities in the Central African Republic (CAR).
The court issued an arrest warrant for Kushayb in 2007, accusing him of murder, rape and pillage in the western Sudanese region of Darfur between 2003 and 2004.
“Ali Kushayb is in the custody of the ICC after surrendering himself voluntarily in the Central African Republic on account of an ICC arrest warrant issued on 27 April 2007,” The Hague-based court said in a statement on Tuesday.
Prosecutors say Kushayb was a commander of the pro-government Popular Defence Forces that led attacks on towns and villages during a conflict that killed hundreds of thousands of people and drove more than two million from their homes.
The court did not specify where Kushayb was being held.
A government source in CAR told the Reuters News Agency Kushayb was arrested in the northern town of Birao and sent on a plane to the Netherlands on Tuesday morning.
Former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is also wanted by the ICC on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for atrocities committed by pro-government forces in Darfur.
Human Rights Watch welcomed Kushayb’s detention.
“Darfuri victims and their families have waited 13 years for this,” 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.”