On Thursday, 19 October and Friday, 20 October 2023, the team representing Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman will start to present its defence case before the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Iain Edwards has been co-counsel for Mr Abd-Al-Rahman since July 2021. His client is alleged to be a former senior leader of the Sudanese Arab militia, commonly called the Janjaweed. He is charged with 31 counts of serious crimes including murder, rape, forcible transfer, persecution and torture as crimes against humanity, and numerous war crimes, between August 2003 and April 2004 in Darfur, Sudan.

The case is unique for a number of reasons. It is the first at the ICC to deal with the conflict in Darfur. It is also the first case to have been referred to the ICC by the United Nations Security Council in respect of a State that is not a party to the Court’s Statute. Sudan does not recognise the Court’s jurisdiction. Over the last three years, the defence team has struggled to carry out any investigations in Sudan as a result of an almost complete lack of cooperation from the Sudanese government. Moreover, the defence team has never been able to access Darfur. These difficulties have been compounded by the ongoing armed conflict that has been raging in Sudan since 15 April 2023.

The defence will publicly set out in detail the nature of these challenges before presenting the evidence that it has succeeded in gathering through a tenacious and creative investigation strategy.

The next hearing is listed for 13 November 2023.