Arusha, October 29, 2012 (FH) - A Trial Chamber at the International Criminal Court (ICC) has rejected the defence request for temporary stay of proceedings in the case of two former Sudanese rebel commanders Abdallah Banda Nourain and Saleh Mohammed Jerbo.

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“The Chamber also requested the parties and participants to file written submissions on the possible date for the commencement of the trial by 19 November 2012,” reads part of the ICC statement dated October 26, 2012.

Banda and Jerbo, who are facing three war crimes charges, are still free. They appeared voluntarily before the Court in compliance with the summonses issued by the Court on June 17, 2010. Confirmation of charges hearings was held on December 8, 2010.

A Pre-Trial Chamber gave its decision to unanimously confirm the charges against the defendants on March 7, 2011, after finding substantial grounds to believe that they were criminally responsible as co-perpetrators.

In its request for the stay of the proceedings submitted on January 6, 2012, the defence had argued, among others, that the defendants could not receive a fair trial since adequate facilities to investigate and to obtain the attendance of witnesses could not be secured in the context of the situation in Sudan.

However, according to the statement, the Chamber rejected the request stating that, if need be, the defendant’s complaint would be kept in mind in the course of the trial.

“At trial, the Chamber, the parties and the participants will be in a position to better assess the evidence adduced to see whether the complaints about fair trial are founded”, the judges indicated.

Banda and Jerbo are alleged to have committed the war crime offences during an attack carried out on September 29, 2007, against the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS), a peace-keeping mission stationed at the Haskanita Military Group Site, in the locality of Umm Kadada, North Darfur.

It is alleged that the attackers killed 12 and severely wounded eight soldiers, destroyed communications facilities and other materials and appropriated property belonging to the AMIS.

This case is the fifth in the situation in Darfur, which was referred to the ICC by United Nations Security Council resolution 1593 on 31 March, 2005, under the Rome Statute. Other cases involve Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir and that of four other individuals.