[JURIST] Sudanese war crimes suspect and rebel leader Bahr Idriss Abu Garda on Sunday surrendered to the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website]. Abu Garda is accused [press release] of committing three crimes against the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) [official website] during a September 2007 attack. The ICC alleges that the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) [official website], under Abu Garda's command, along with other troops, killed 12 and wounded eight AMIS soldiers. Based on his willingness to appear, the court issued a summons for Abu Garda rather than issuing an arrest warrant. ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] addressed the violence against peacekeepers [press release] in Darfur, stating:
By killing peacekeepers, the perpetrators attacked the millions of civilians who those soldiers came to protect. They came from Senegal, from Mali, from Nigeria, from Botswana, to serve and protect. They were murdered. Attacking peacekeepers is a serious crime under the [Rome] Statute and shall be prosecuted.
Such attacks … have a direct impact on the delivery of vital services and thereby exacerbate the suffering of vulnerable groups. They impact on the lives of thousands.
Abu Garda is the first suspect to appear before the ICC in regards to the Darfur investigation.
After opening the investigation into violence against peacekeepers in Darfur in December 2007, Moreno-Ocampo stated that "such attacks can constitute war crimes within the ICC’s jurisdiction." Abu Garda is the fourth person set to be prosecuted by the ICC in regards to the Darfur investigation. The court is also pursuing cases against Ahmad Harun, Ali Kushayb, and President Omar al-Bashir [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. In March, al-Bashir scoffed at the ICC warrant [JURIST report] issued for his arrest. The controversial arrest warrant [JURIST news archive] had been sought by Moreno-Ocampo, who in July filed preliminary charges [text, PDF; JURIST report] against Bashir alleging genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes committed in the Darfur region in violation of Articles 6, 7, and 8 of the Rome Statute [text].