[JURIST] The International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] on Monday declined to confirm charges [judgment, PDF; press release] against Darfur rebel chief Bahr Idriss Abu Garda [case materials; JURIST news archive]. The ruling came after a preliminary hearing [JURIST report] in October to address war crimes charges that arose out of Abu Garda's alleged involvement in the September 2007 attacks [BBC report] against a peacekeeping mission located in North-Darfur. Despite the pre-trial chamber's finding that the mission was entitled to civilian protection under the international law of armed conflicts, and that the case was of the appropriate severity to move forward, the chamber unanimously found that the prosecution did not sufficiently demonstrate that the charges against Abu Garda could withstand scrutiny at trial. If the prosecution provides additional evidence, it may still seek the confirmation of the charges, or it may petition the chamber to appeal the decision.
The ICC completed [JURIST report] the confirmation of charges hearing in October, during which prosecutors alleged that Abu Garda controlled the Justice and Equality Movement [official website, in Arabic] during the 2007 attacks, which resulted in the death of 12 African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) soldiers and several injuries. The defense argued that Abu Garda is not responsible for the attack and that the AMIS had lost its protected status [video] under international law, making it a legitimate military target. Abu Garda is the first suspect to appear before the ICC with regard to the Darfur situation [JURIST news archive], making his first appearance [JURIST report] in May 2009 to deny responsibility for war crimes.