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Sudan makes first arrests for Darfur crimes

3/28/2005 1:47pm

KHARTOUM, March 28 (AFP) -- The Sudanese authorities have detained a first 14 people, including security officials, on suspicion of crimes, including rape and murder, committed in the war-wracked western region of Darfur, Justice Minister Ali Mohammed Osman Yassin told AFP Monday.
"Fourteen people, most of them officers in the mainstream forces -- army, security or police -- have been arrested in South Darfur state," Yassin said, making the distinction with the government-sponsored militias blamed for many of the abuses in Darfur.

"They are accused of rape, arson and other crimes and will go on trial very soon," Yassin said, adding that he was unsure of the precise date of their arrests.

Official media announced Sunday that Sudan planned to try at least 164 suspects for Darfur crimes -- 14 of them in South Darfur and 150 in North Darfur.

The announcements came as the UN Security Council prepared to debate a French draft resolution that would refer 51 suspects identified by a UN probe for trial on war crimes charges at the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

Khartoum is strongly opposed to the draft, insisting that it is a sovereign nation and that prosecutions for offences on its territory should be through the Sudanese courts.

Following the launch of an ethnic minority uprising in Darfur two years ago, the government unleashed Arab militias in a scorched earth campaign that prompted a host of allegations against army, police and militia commanders, including systematic use of rape as a weapon.

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