KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) – Sudanese hard-liners vowed Friday to defy a U.N. Security Council resolution referring Darfur war crimes suspects to the International Criminal Court, saying it was unfair for Sudanese suspects to face The Hague tribunal when Americans are exempt.

Sudan opposes sending any of its citizens accused of committing war crimes during the two-year conflict in the country’s west to a foreign court, saying Sudan’s judicial system would take charge of any such prosecutions.

The U.N. resolution passed Thursday only after controversial concessions were made, including guarantees that citizens of countries not party to the ICC working in Sudan – such as the United States – would not be handed over to the court or any other nation’s judiciary if they commit crimes in the African country.

“We will not allow any arrest or trial of a Sudanese official, unless they will arrest the 30 million Sudanese people and try them,” Abdul Galeel Nazeer Karori, a leading Islamist and member of Sudan’s ruling National Congress party, said on state-run TV.

During a Friday mosque prayer service in Khartoum attended by President Omar el-Bashir, hundreds of people chanted “God is great” as a government-aligned Islamist legislator charged the U.N. resolution contained “double standards.”

“No American will be tried there, but the poor and weak Sudan will be tried right or wrong, for what it did and what it didn’t do,” said Tigani Siraj, a National Congress lawmaker who led the prayers.

El-Bashir made no comments during the service.

Later, el-Bashir chaired an emergency meeting of the National Congress party leadership to discuss Sudan’s response to the U.N. resolution.

“The leadership ordered the government not to deal with the resolution in any way,” state-owned television reported later.

Sudan rejects claims by the United States that it aided Arab militiamen, known as the Janjaweed, in a violent campaign targeting African villagers throughout Darfur.

An estimated 180,000 people have died in the conflict since February 2003, when two non-Arab rebel groups took up arms against the Arab-dominated government to win more rights for Darfur’s African tribes.

Thursday’s Security Council vote passed 11-0, with the United States, Algeria, China and Brazil abstaining. The American abstention marked a major policy shift for Washington. Ever since he took office, President Bush had actively opposed the court.

Acting U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson said Washington was determined to have something done on Sudan, but still objected to the ICC.

Sudan’s former prime minister, Sadiq el-Mahdi, supported the resolution, saying el-Bashir should send suspects to the international court.

“There were crimes committed in Darfur and there are victims,” el-Mahdi, who was deposed by el-Bashir in a 1989 coup, told Al-Jazeera TV station. “There are war crimes and crimes against humanity and they must be sent to trial.”

An ICC court official has said a team of two dozen investigators from the prosecutor’s office is ready to fly to Sudan and begin preparing cases against alleged perpetrators of severe human rights violations, and possibly genocide.

The prosecution case file will include material gathered by a special U.N. commission of inquiry, which compiled a list of 51 suspects submitted to the U.N. in January.

AP-ES-04-01-05 1735EST


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