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Cablegate: Prominent Rights Lawyer Predicts Bashir Will Give Up Haroun

VZCZCXRO5943
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1109 2061343
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 241343Z JUL 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1410
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 001109

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, A/S FRAZER, SE WILLIAMSON
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: PROMINENT RIGHTS LAWYER PREDICTS BASHIR WILL GIVE UP HAROUN
AND KOSHEIB

REF: A. KHARTOUM 1062
B. KHARTOUM 1068

1. (SBU) Summary: At the urging of the Arab League, the GOS has
backed off from grand demonstrations and alarming public statements
regarding the recent ICC indictment, according to famed Sudanese
human rights lawyer and MP Salih Mahmoud Osman. Osman predicts that
the GOS intends to surrender Ahmed Haroun and Ali Kosheib if the ICC
will lift its indictment of President Bashir. Osman was supportive
of the U.S. position toward the court, but suggested the U.S. do
more to show it demands justice and accountability for the crimes in
Darfur. End Summary.

2. (SBU) With the Sudanese press howling about the International
Criminal Court (ICC), and Government of Sudan (GOS) leadership
publicly opposing any cooperation with the court, Salih Mahmoud
Osman met with Poloff at the Embassy July 20 to discuss the Sudanese
legal climate in the wake of the ICC announcement. Recipients of
numerous European and American awards for his human rights work in
Sudan, Osman sees the case of Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo as very
solid with overwhelming, concrete evidence (though he did not appear
to have any inside information on what documents Ocampo might have
been able to obtain to support the indictment). Osman reported that
Arab countries are urging the regime's cooperation with the court
and advising it to cancel demonstrations (which he noted the GOS
always announces but fails to successfully organize).

3. (SBU) Osman opined that Bashir's refusal to hand over Minister of
State for Humanitarian Affairs Ahmed Haroun and janjaweed leader Ali
Kosheib forced Ocampo's hand. He speculated there may be advisors
around Bashir reminding him of his initial mistake, and that Bashir
may now be prepared to cooperate with the court. "They have to give
an answer. They may say, 'We won't surrender Bashir but you can have
Ahmed Haroun.'" While panicked that Haroun and Kosheib will disclose
information damaging to the regime upon their arrests, Osman said he
believes insiders within the National Congress Party (NCP) also
believe that Bashir's indictment, an alternative far more
consequential, can be suspended in light of a handover of Ocampo's
original suspects. (Note: This information contradicts what other
observers have said, and what the Arab League "negotiated" with the
regime, that Haroun and Kosheib could face a tribunal in Sudan
rather than the ICC. End note.)

4. (SBU) Osman cautions that international actors must be careful
not to de-legitimize the claims of the Darfuri victims, whom the
United States, in Osman's view, quite rightly categorized as victims
of genocide in 2005. "The U.S. position is very balanced, not
offending anyone," Osman said, "but the GOS has been using U.S.
reservations to the ICC by interpreting it as if the U.S. is against
the ICC, and so against justice. The U.S. remains silent, but the
U.S. should say we are not against justice if there are crimes, but
not necessarily through the mechanism of the ICC." Osman advised
that if the U.S. opposes the ICC so strongly, it should push the
creation of an ad hoc court, potentially in Sudan, to bring to
justice those who committed the crimes in Darfur.

5. (SBU) While the international community presses Darfuris to
participate in next year's elections, justice for GOS crimes in
Darfur remains Osman's chief obsession. "With the consequences of
the situation in Darfur, there must be recognition that Darfuris are
entitled to legal rights. The government has a right to deal with
the rebels as a counterinsurgency, but there are rules it must
follow." Osman noted that current Sudanese and international
conventional wisdom appears to hold that the issuance of an arrest
warrant will drive Sudan further towards war, but Osman disagrees,
stating that justice is a precondition for peace.

6. (SBU) Comment: Osman may be right that the regime will ultimately
be forced to give up Haroun and Kosheib, and we know that elements
within the senior ranks of the NCP did consider turning them over to
the ICC as an option to avoid an indictment of Bashir, but at this
point it seems the GOS is headed in the direction of trying Haroun
and Kosheib in Sudanese courts. It is noteworthy that Osman himself
did not urge the US to push for the regime to turn Haroun and
Kosheib over to the ICC, but rather advocated for trying them in
local courts since the US is not part of the ICC. This is probably
the most likely outcome, not just because Sudan does not recognize
the ICC, but because the regime will not want Haroun and Kosheib to
provide damaging testimony to the ICC.

FERNANDEZ

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