Court sentences eight to death in Sudan over Omdurman rebel attack

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

In Sudan, Judge Muntasim Mohamed Saleh sentenced eight men from the rebel group Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) to death and found another not guilty. A 16-year-old defendant was referred a special juvenile court. The accused were being tried under counter-terrorism legislation over the 2008 attack on Omdurman and Khartoum.

"I find you guilty under the Sudanese counter-terrorism law, chapter five and six, and Sudanese criminal law, chapter 130, I sentence you to be hanged to death," Saleh told the eight men who stood in silence in the dock as the verdict was read out.

Defence lawyers said that these special courts are unconstitutional and do not guarantee their clients' legal rights. "It is against Sudanese constitutional law because Sudanese constitutional law gives the citizen the right to be tried in the normal way. The defence team will appeal the decision of the court," said Kamal Omar—one of the defence lawyers—to Agence France-Presse. Under Sudanese law, all death sentences are ratified by an appeal court and the high court. They are then sent to the Sudanese president to be signed.

Four Sudanese courts were held in Khartoum, Khartoum North and Omdurman to try dozens of suspects rounded up after the May 10 attack, which marked the first time decades of regional conflict reached the capital. More than 222 people were killed during this incident when rebels drove hundreds of kilometres from western Sudan's region of Darfur to Omdurman, just across the Nile from the presidential palace.