Sudanese Court Sentences 29 Intelligence Officers to Death for Murder of Protester

  • The ruling is among the latest series of convictions and investigations this month targeting the government of the deposed president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir.
  • The teacher, Ahmed al-Kheir, died while in custody in February during the mass protests against the former president’s rule.
  • The ruling comes a few weeks after another court convicted the former president Omar al-Bashir of money laundering.

Twenty-nine members of the national intelligence service have been sentenced to death by a court in Sudan, having found them guilty of murdering a teacher in detention. The defendants were found guilty of deadly abuse of Ahmed al-Kheir at an intelligence services facility and sentenced to be hanged, judge Sadok Abdelrahman said.

Omar al-Bashir was President of Sudan from the June 1989 military coup until his own overthrow in April 2019. In 2009, he became the first sitting head of state to be indicted for war crimes, for allegedly directing a campaign of mass killing, rape, and pillage against civilians in Darfur.

The ruling is among the latest series of convictions and investigations this month targeting the government of the deposed president, Omar al-Bashir. It is the first time the courts have handed down convictions over crackdowns on demonstrations in the months before and after Bashir was toppled in April. Thirteen defendants were sentenced to prison terms, and a further four were acquitted in the verdict, which could face several stages of appeal.

Hundreds of people gathered outside the court in Omdurman, the country’s most populous city, where the verdict was read on Monday. Some were waving national flags while others held pictures of teacher Kheir. Itimad al- Mujamar, a representative of the Sudanese teacher’s union, said during a press conference that the conviction was a “win for justice.” He said, “the ruling sends a message to the other martyrs of the revolution and their families and that we are intent on getting our lost rights back.”

The teacher, Ahmed al-Kheir, died while in custody in February during the mass protests against the former president’s rule. Al-Kheir was arrested in January from his home in Khashm el-Girba, in the eastern state of Kassala, on allegations that he had helped organize the protests. The death of teacher Kheir became a rallying point during the sixteen weeks of protests against Bashir’s rule. Khair’s family said that the security officers initially said that he had died of food poisoning, but a few days afterwards, state investigations revealed that he had died of injuries from severe beating.

The Rapid Support Forces are Sudanese paramilitary forces operated by the Sudanese Government. The RSF grew out of, and is primarily composed of, the Janjaweed militias which fought on behalf of the Sudanese government during the War in Darfur.

The ruling comes a few weeks after another court convicted the former president of money laundering. Bashir, 75, was sentenced to two years in a state-run rehabilitation facility due to his age. The former president ruled the country for almost three decades but was ousted in April after months of protests precipitated by high bread prices persuaded the military commanders to turn against him. Bashir is also wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague (ICC) for his role in atrocities in Darfur. The current leadership has however refused to hand him over to the ICC.

This month, Sudan’s attorney general said that the government would open investigations into the crimes committed in the western region of Darfur during Bashir’s rule. According to the United Nations, around 300,000 people were killed in the conflict there, and around 2.7 million forced from their homes. In August, Sudan’s generals and protest leaders formed an eleven-member sovereign council to govern the country for three years until elections can be held.

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Juliet Norah

I am a freelance journalist is passionate about news. I derive pleasure in informing people about the happenings in the world

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