Darfur: Trial of militia Leader Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman opens at ICC

A former militia leader will become the first person to be tried at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for atrocities committed in Darfur, the scene of a bloodbath nearly 20 years ago.
At least 45 people died in the week leading up to the hearings in renewed tribal clashes in the western Sudanese region that is regularly plagued by violence, according to local security officials.
Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman, 72, an aide to former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, was the leader of the Janjaweed militia, a proxy force for the Sudanese government accused of abuses during the Darfur conflict.
Also known by his nom de guerre Ali Kosheib, he is accused of 31 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in 2003-2004 in Darfur. The conflict erupted at that time when members of ethnic minorities took up arms against the Arab majority regime in Khartoum.
Khartoum responded with the Janjaweed, a force drawn from the region’s nomadic tribes. Human rights groups said they carried out a “systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing” targeting the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups.
The human toll of the conflict is estimated at 300,000 dead and 2.5 million displaced, according to the United Nations. In April 2007, the ICC, based in The Hague, issued an arrest warrant for Abd-Al-Rahman.
Abd-Al-Rahman fled to the Central African Republic in February 2020 when the new Sudanese government announced its intention to cooperate with ICC investigators. He surrendered in June 2020 to the ICC after 13 years on the run, and denies the charges against him.
According to ICC prosecutors, the militia leader, supported by Sudanese forces, carried out attacks on villages in the Wadi Salih area of Darfur in August 2003, in which at least 100 villagers were murdered, women and girls were raped, and members of the predominant Fur ethnic group were forcibly relocated and persecuted.