(The Hague) - On October 19, 2009, the International Criminal Court (ICC) will begin a hearing to assess whether charges of war crimes against Bahar Idriss Abu Garda, a rebel leader in Darfur, Sudan, should be confirmed.

Abu Garda is suspected of responsibility for murder, attacking a peacekeeping mission, and pillage for his alleged role in an attack in 2007 on a base in Haskanita, North Darfur that killed 12 African Union peacekeepers.

"The case against Abu Garda is about justice for crimes against peacekeepers sent by African states to protect people in Darfur," said Richard Dicker, director of Human Rights Watch's International Justice Program. "The case highlights the ICC's concern for protecting African civilians and sends a clear message to warring parties that these attacks will not be tolerated."

This "confirmation of charges" hearing for Abu Garda is the first for ICC investigations in Darfur and could pave the way for the ICC's first trial involving crimes committed in Darfur. The case against Abu Garda is also the first at the ICC involving crimes against international peacekeepers.