International Criminal Court: Investigation against the will of Sudan

The Bush administration yesterday opened the door to future cooperation with the &to=http:// ' target=_blank>International Criminal Court as the Hague-based court announced a probe into atrocities in western Sudan.

The ICC, established three years ago over U.S. objections, said it would investigate complaints of war crimes and mass violations of human rights in the Sudanese province of Darfur, the first step toward a full war crimes prosecution. Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said in The Hague that the court would undertake an "impartial and independent" investigation, informs the Washington Times.

According to ABC News, the U.N. Security Council asked the court to take on the Darfur situation two months ago, in what would be the first case to be investigated against the will of the country where the alleged crimes took place. The court also is investigating war crimes in Congo and Uganda.

A failure by Khartoum to cooperate with the court could result in economic sanctions, human rights groups said. The investigation is the court's most difficult and dangerous so far as it ventures into the vast desert of western Sudan. Prosecutors said their work will be "impartial and independent, focusing on the individuals who bear the greatest criminal responsibility for crimes committed in Darfur." Initial inquiries have been made with dozens of experts, resulting in thousands of pages of case material, they said.

Chief Prosecutor &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Luis Moreno-Ocampo also appealed to "all partners to provide his office with the information, evidence and practical support needed to carry out his mandate."

Darfur's crisis erupted when rebels took up arms because of what they considered years of state neglect and discrimination against Sudanese of African origin. The government is accused of responding with a counterinsurgency campaign in which the ethnic Arab militia known as the Janjaweed have committed wide-scale abuses against ethnic Africans.

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