Beijing (AFP) Dec 18, 2010
China, a key ally of Sudan, was not opposed to the arrest of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir as long as its oil interests were protected, according to a US diplomatic cable revealed by WikiLeaks.
The document dated December 3, 2008 quotes the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court discussing the issue with a US official.
"China, as long as it continues to have oil concessions in Sudan, does not care what happens to Bashir, and would not oppose his arrest if its revenues were not interrupted," ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo was quoted as saying.
"Ocampo suggested the United States give China assurances about its oil concessions," according to the cable, released by the whistleblower website and published by Britain's Guardian newspaper.
The Hague-based ICC indicted Bashir in March 2009 on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and in July 2010 on charges of genocide, all linked to alleged atrocities in Darfur in western Sudan.
The region has been in the throes of a civil war since 2003 that has killed 300,000 people and displaced another 2.7 million, according to UN figures. Khartoum puts the death toll at 10,000 people.
The December 2008 cable suggested a change of heart in Beijing, as another memo from three months before said Chinese officials feared that Bashir's arrest and prosecution would "only serve to destabilise Sudan".
Those concerns were shared by US officials, who said Bashir's indictment could "set off a chain reaction of violence and instability".
China is a key ally of Bashir's isolated regime as well as a military supplier and the biggest buyer of the country's oil.
Beijing has been criticised by the West for its support of hardline leaders such as Bashir and Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, but many African leaders praise Beijing for not preaching to them over human rights.
Another cable released by WikiLeaks quoted a senior US State Department official as saying China is a "pernicious economic competitor with no morals" whose booming investments in Africa are propping up unsavoury regimes.
China pursues a "contrarian" approach by dealing with the "Mugabes and Bashirs of the world", the US assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Johnnie Carson, was quoted as saying earlier this year.
Beijing has said it hopes the ongoing revelations from the cables leaked by WikiLeaks will not affect its ties with the United States, but has thus far refused to comment on the specifics contained in the documents.
earlier related report
The ruling will mean, according to the family, that the man they consider to be the prime suspect, police chief General John Numbi, cannot be tried, since generals can only be tried by the senior military court.
Numbi, who has been suspended from duty, appeared at an earlier hearing on November 12, but only as a witness.
Judges described the applications for the trial to be moved and for bail as "unfounded" and adjourned the case until December 23.
Chebeya, 47, president of the human rights group Voice of the Voiceless (La Voix des sans Voix - VSV), was found dead on June 2 in his car with his hands tied behind his back on the outskirts of Kinshasa after a scheduled meeting, which never took place, with General Numbi.
Chebeya's chauffeur, Fidele Bazana, who had accompanied him, is still reported missing and his body has never been found.
VSV and Banzana's family, along with the family of Chebeya, are also civil parties in the case and supported the request for the trial to be heard by a higher court.
Apart from the chief of special services of police, Colonel Daniel Mukalay, the other defendants include a major, a lieutenant, a second lieutenant and a warrant officer. Two majors and a warrant officer are being tried in their absence.
All eight are accused, according to the charge sheet, of criminal association, kidnapping, murder, assassination, terrorism and purloining arms. The three absent men are also on trial for desertion.
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