ICC judges order first trial for Darfur war crimes

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FILE PHOTO: Sudanese people from the Arabic tribe of Ibn Halba in Darfur

THE HAGUE (Reuters) - Judges at the International Criminal Court have ruled that a Sudanese suspect can be charged with 31 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity and have ordered the first trial at the tribunal linked to bloodshed in Sudan's Darfur region.

In a decision published on Friday, judges said Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman would face 31 counts including persecution, murder, rape and torture.

Prosecutors accuse Abd-Al-Rahman, who they say also went by the name of Ali Kushayb, of being a senior commander of thousands of pro-government "Janjaweed" fighters during the height of the Darfur conflict between 2003 and 2004.

"The trial chamber hereby ... commits mister Abd-Al-Rahman to a trial chamber for trial on the charges as confirmed," the decision read. No date has been set for the start of trial yet.

Darfur's conflict erupted in 2003 when mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms against Sudan's government, accusing it of neglecting the arid, western region.

Khartoum mobilised mostly Arab militias to crush the revolt, unleashing a wave of violence that Washington and some activists said amounted to genocide.

Sudan's former president Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who is facing ICC charges of orchestrating genocide and other atrocities in Darfur, was deposed in 2019 and remains in prison in Khartoum.

(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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