Two rebel leaders accused in the September 2007 attack that resulted in the death of 12 peacekeepers in Darfur arrived voluntarily at the International Criminal Court (ICC) today and will appear before judges on Thursday.

Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain (Banda) and Saleh Mohammed Jerbo Jamus (Jerbo) are charged with three counts of war crimes allegedly committed during the attack on the Haskanita camp in South Darfur state.

“The appearance of the two suspects means that all the persons we wish to prosecute in connection with the Haskanita attack have now appeared before the Court,” ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said in a news release. “The rebel commanders will now face justice.”

The attack resulted in the killing of 12 peacekeepers and the wounding of eight others serving with the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) – a predecessor to the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping mission, known as UNAMID.

It was allegedly carried out by the troops belonging to the Sudanese Liberation Army-Unity (SLA-Unity), which had broken away from the Sudanese Liberation Movement-Army (SLA/M), under the command of Jerbo, jointly with splinter forces of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), under the command of Banda.

Bahar Idriss Abu Garda, who commands a splinter group of the JEM, was the first person to appear voluntarily before the ICC, back in May 2009. In April of this year, the Court dismissed the charges against him in relation to the Haskanita attack, citing a lack of evidence.

Until their first appearance before The Hague-based Court tomorrow, Mr. Banda and Mr. Jerbo will stay at a confidential location, according to a news release issued by the ICC. They are ordered not to leave the premises of the Court, including that location, for the whole period of their stay in the Netherlands without the permission of the Pre-Trial Chamber.

“During the hearing tomorrow, they will be informed of the crimes which they are alleged to have committed and of their rights under the Rome Statute,” the Court stated. “A confirmation hearing will be held within a reasonable time to determine whether or not there are substantial grounds to believe that they committed the crimes charged.”

An estimated 300,000 people have died and another 3 million have been displaced in Darfur, where rebels have been fighting Government forces and allied Arab militiamen, known as the Janjaweed, since 2003.

Mr. Moreno-Ocampo pointed out that his office has also offered the option of a voluntary surrender to Ahmad Harun, a former national government minister of the interior, and Ali Kushayb, the alleged Janjaweed militia leader, who are both facing war crimes charges.

“However, they refused to cooperate and the judges issued arrest warrants against them,” he said, adding that the Government of Sudan has refused to execute the warrants.

The two men remain at large and Mr. Harun is now the Governor of South Kordofan state. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir also faces charges before the ICC of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Last month the Court's judges referred Sudan's lack of cooperation in failing to arrest the indictees to the Security Council.

The situation in Darfur was referred to Court by the Security Council in 2005, and is one of five investigations currently before the ICC, along with Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, and Kenya.

Accra / Ghana/ Africa /