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Sudanese rebels face war crimes court

Associated Press / June 18, 2010

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AMSTERDAM — Two men charged with war crimes in the deadly 2007 attack against African Union peacekeepers in Darfur told an international court yesterday that they are revolutionaries and ready to face justice.

Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain and Saleh Mohammed Jerbo Jamus appeared at the International Criminal Court a day after they arrived in the Netherlands and voluntarily surrendered to the court in The Hague. Prosecutors say 12 peacekeepers were killed and eight wounded in the attack, which prompted the African Union to suspend its Darfur mission.

If it goes to trial, the case would be the first to test international law that says attacking noncombatant peace forces is a war crime.

The men were accused of commanding a 1,000-strong rebel force that on Sept. 29, 2007, launched an assault on an African Union base in the troubled region of western Sudan. The attackers looted the camp.

A court clerk read charges of war crimes for murder, attacking peacekeepers, and plunder.

“I am a revolutionary,’’ Banda said when asked to confirm his identity and profession.

Judge Sylvia Steiner of Brazil set Nov. 22 as the start of hearings to confirm there is enough evidence to go to trial.

Jerbo, 33, was a commander of the Sudanese Liberation Army-Unity. Banda, who is about 47, led splinter forces of the Justice and Equality Movement.

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