Bahr Idriss Abu Garda

Bahr Idriss Abu Garda (Abu Garda), a member of the Zaghawa tribe of Sudan, is the current Chairman and General Co-ordinator of Military Operations of the United Resistance Front. From January 2005 until September 2007 Abu Garda was the Vice-President of the Sudanese armed group known as the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). On 4 October 2007 he declared, together with others, the formation of a new armed faction called JEM Collective Leadership (“JEM-CL”).

He was allegedly in command of the splinter forces of JEM during an attack carried out on 29 September 2007 on the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) stationed at the Military Group Site Haskanita (Haskanita) in North Darfur, Sudan. Some 1,000 rebels, armed with anti-aircraft guns, artillery guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers, attacked the Haskanita camp, killing 12 peacekeepers serving with the AMIS and wounding eight others.

Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court examined the Prosecution application and evidence submitted on 20 November 2008, as well as its other supporting material and information. The Chamber considered that there are reasonable grounds to believe that Abu Garda is criminally responsible as a co-perpetrator or as an indirect co-perpetrator for three war crimes under article 25(3)(a) of the Rome Statute:

  • - violence to life, in the form of murder, whether committed or attempted, within the
    meaning of article 8(2)(c)(i) of the Statute
  • - intentionally directing attacks against personnel, installations, material, units or vehicles
    involved in a peacekeeping mission, within the meaning of article 8(2)(e)(iii) of the Statute
  • - pillaging, within the meaning of article 8(2)(e)(v) of the Statute.

Abu Garda is the first person to appear before the ICC voluntarily in response to a summons and also the first to appear in relation to the investigation into the situation in Darfur, which was referred to Court by the Security Council in 2005.

The Haskanita incident is the third case arising from the situation in Darfur. The ICC's pre-trial chamber issued arrest warrants in May 2007 for Ahmad Harun, former Sudanese Minister of State for the Interior and now the Minister of State for Humanitarian Affairs, and Ali Kushayb, a Janjaweed leader.

On 18 May 2009 Bahr Idriss Abu Garda appeared before Pre-Trial Chamber I at the International Criminal Court (ICC). He is the first accused to appear before the ICC concerning the situation in Darfur and the first accused to appear without an arrest warrant.

On 8 February 2010, Pre-Trial Chamber I of the ICC issued its decision declining the confirmation of charges in the case. The Chamber found that there was insufficient evidence to establish substantial grounds to believe that Abu Garda was responsible as a direct or indirect co-perpetrator of the crimes of which he was charged.

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