‘Sudan rebel leader directed murder of AU peacekeepers’
The Hague: Fighters commanded by Darfur rebel chief Bahar Idriss Abu Garda brutally murdered 12 African peacekeepers before looting their camp in 2007, the International Criminal Court (ICC) heard on Monday.
"This attack was planned and executed under the command of Mr Abu Garda," prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told the court at the start of a hearing to confirm charges against him for the attack on the Haskanita military base in north Darfur.
"Most of them (the soldiers) were shot at close range; they were executed," she said.
The September 2007 attack killed 12 African Union peacekeepers and seriously wounded eight others. They were from Nigeria, Mali, Senegal, Botswana and Gambia.
Abu Garda is the first person to appear before the ICC in The Hague for war crimes allegedly committed during the Sudan conflict.
"This case is about a deliberate attack against peacekeepers," Bensouda told the court as the United Resistance Front leader sat making notes in a light suit and striped tie across the courtroom.
"This was an intentional attack against persons and objects with protected status under international criminal law."
The prosecutor said Abu Garda's men then ransacked the camp, making off with military hardware and personal possessions like cellphones, before razing the base, "leaving thousands of civilians unprotected".