A Sudanese militia leader who spent 13 years on the run from international war crime charges made his first appearance in front of the International Criminal Court at The Hague on Monday.
Ali Kushayb, 70, also known as Ali Abd-Al-Rahman is accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity during deadly battles in the Darfur region from 2003 to 2004. Government-backed militias, like the one Kushayb led, supposedly participated in attacks on hundreds of villages and mass killings of civilians for two decades against rebels.
Kushayb had been on the run for 13 years before giving himself up in the Central African Republic earlier this month.
The court accused Kushayb of being “one of the most senior leaders in the tribal hierarchy in the Wadi Salih locality and member of the Popular Defense Forces and allegedly commanded thousands of Janjaweed militia from on or about August 2003 until on or about March 2004.”
He is charged with 53 counts for the crimes in Darfur. The first warrant for his arrest was issued in 2007 and a second this month.
The court’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, said Kushayb’s detention was a “pivotal” moment in holding those accountable for the years of human rights violations in Sudan.
“There should be no escape from justice for perpetrators of the world’s most serious crimes under international law,” Bensouda said.
Kushayb appeared in the court via videoconference because of concerns over the coronavirus.