[JURIST] The International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] has rejected [judgment, PDF; press release] the prosecutor's petition to appeal the court's February decision [judgment, PDF] declining to confirm the charges against Darfur rebel chief Bahr Idriss Abu Garda [case materials; JURIST news archive]. In a decision released Friday, the chamber recalled its earlier determination that the evidence presented by the prosecution was not of the appropriate severity to continue the proceedings against Abu Garda and found that the prosecution's petition did not meet the requirements for an appeal. The prosecutor argued in the appeal that the court had applied a stricter evidentiary standard [Rules of Evidence, PDF] in the Pre-Trial Chamber than it should have employed. In denying the appeal, the ICC said:
[N]either the Statute nor the Rules, contrary to the Prosecution's assertion, draws a distinction as to the way evidence shall be assessed before a Trial Chamber and a Pre-Trial Chamber. The free assessment of the evidence presented by a party is, pursuant to the Statute, a core component of the judicial activity both at the pre-trial stage of a case and at trial. ... In light of the above, the proposition put forward by the Prosecution, namely that the Chamber should have applied a different standard to the assessment of the evidence at the confirmation of the charges stage, is without any legal basis.
In the event that the prosecution provides additional evidence, it may still seek the confirmation of the charges or petition the chamber to appeal the decision.
The ICC declined to confirm charges against Abu Garda in February, a ruling that came after a preliminary hearing [JURIST reports] in October, during which the prosecution alleged that Abu Garda controlled the Justice and Equality Movement [official website, in Arabic]. The charges against Abu Garda stem from a series of attacks in 2007 that resulted in the death of 12 African Union Mission in Sudan soldiers. Abu Garda first appeared [JURIST report] before the ICC on the charges in May 2009, and is the first individual involved in the situation in Darfur to appear before the court.