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War crimes court set to try Sudan officials

SUDANESE officials are likely to face prosecution for war crimes following a report by the International Criminal Court on massacres in the Darfur region.

The report paints a gruesome picture of massacres and hundreds of mass rapes in south-western Sudan.

But it may also complicate United Nations efforts to send a NATO-led peacekeeping force to the region, with Sudanese officials nervous that they may face arrest.

ICC chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, told the UN Security Council in New York of "large-scale massacres with hundreds of victims in each incident". His report, a year in completion, is the most comprehensive picture yet painted of the three-year campaign of ethnic cleansing by pro-government forces.

It includes a database detailing thousands of individual atrocities which will form the evidence for future indictments of officials. It found that hundreds, possibly thousands, of women have been subjected to mass rape by the militias.

The report repeats complaints Mr Ocampo made last year that the Sudanese authorities are dragging their heels in cooperating with his investigation.

Khartoum insists it is holding its own investigation into the atrocities.

An estimated 200,000 have been killed in the ethnic cleansing, with hundreds of thousands expelled.

The UN is trying to broker permanent peace deals between Sudan and rebel factions and hopes to have a peacekeeping force there this summer to replace troops from the African Union.

Meanwhile, Britain has announced it will provide a jail cell for the former Liberian president Charles Taylor if he is found guilty of war crimes by the special court in Sierra Leone. The move increases the chances that his crimes trial, the first of a former African president, will be switched to The Hague amid security fears.

 
 
 

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