An alleged Janjaweed militia leader has pleaded not guilty to dozens of charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity at the first-ever trial at the International Criminal Court dealing with Sudan’s Darfur conflict of nearly two decades ago.
According to RFI, Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman, is accused of overseeing thousands of pro-government Janjaweed fighters responsible for persecution, murder, rape, and torture during the 2003-2004 height of the violence in which hundreds of thousands were killed.
“I am innocent of all of these charges,” septuagenarian Abd-Al-Rahman, told judges after the charges were read out at the start of his case on Tuesday.
Abd-Al-Rahman, whom prosecutors say was also known as Ali Kushayb, voluntarily surrendered to The Hague-based court in June 2020 after 13 years on the run.
He has denied the charges.
20 years after the Darfur war, 1.6million remain displaced
The trial comes amid an upsurge in what humanitarian groups say is inter-communal violence in Darfur since the end of the United Nations and African Union mission there.
Decades after the worst of the fighting, the United Nations estimates some 1.6 million people are still internally displaced in Darfur.
Darfur’s conflict first first erupted when mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms against the Sudanese government, which responded with a counter-insurgency.
Khartoum mobilised mostly Arab militias, known as the Janjaweed, to crush the revolt, unleashing a wave of violence that Washington and activists say amounted to genocide.
Abd-Al-Rahman has been accused of 31 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity and could face up to life imprisonment if convicted.