Sudan rebels to stand trial over peacekeeper killings

THE HAGUE Tue Mar 8, 2011 2:04pm EST

Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain (L) and Saleh Mohammed Jerbo Jamus, both suspected of having committed war crimes in Darfur, arrive voluntarily at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, June 17, 2010. REUTERS/Toussaint Kluiters/United Photos

Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain (L) and Saleh Mohammed Jerbo Jamus, both suspected of having committed war crimes in Darfur, arrive voluntarily at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, June 17, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Toussaint Kluiters/United Photos

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THE HAGUE (Reuters) - The International Criminal Court on Tuesday ordered two Sudanese rebels to stand trial on charges they orchestrated the killing of 12 African Union peacekeepers in Darfur in 2007.

The court said there were "substantial grounds" to believe that Abdallah Banda and Saleh Jerbo were responsible for the attack and ordered them to stand trial for war crimes following a confirmation of charges hearing in December.

Both men have previously denied the charges.

The Hague-based court has already issued an arrest warrant for Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to face charges of committing genocide during the country's seven-year Darfur conflict, including seven counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes relating to the conflict.

Banda and Jerbo have appeared in the court voluntarily.

They are accused of intentionally directing attacks against personnel and material involved in a peacekeeping mission, as well as violence to life and pillaging, the court said in a statement.

Prosecutors had previously told the court that Banda and Jerbo personally led and physically participated in the attack against the compound of the African Union Mission in Sudan at Haskanita on the evening of September 29, 2007.

Both men described themselves as revolutionaries when they appeared in court in June last year, saying they would clear their names in the case.

Initially, three rebel leaders were charged over the killings, but the ICC later dismissed the charges against Bahr Idris Abu Garda.

(Reporting by Aaron Gray-Block; Editing by Sara Webb)

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