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Court sentences 11 more Darfur rebels to death

Latest update : 2009-04-27

Sudan sentenced to death another 11 Darfur rebels on Sunday, for their part in a 2008 attack on Khartoum. The sentence raises to 82 the number of Justice and Equality Movement fighters ordered hanged for the raid.

AFP - A Sudanese court sentenced another 11 Darfur rebels to death on Sunday for a 2008 attack on Khartoum, raising to 82 the number of Justice and Equality Movement fighters ordered hanged for the raid.
Judge Hafez Ahmed found the JEM fighters guilty of terrorism and illegal possession of weapons during the unprecedented attack on the capital's twin city of Omdurman in May 2008.
The condemned men stood up and shouted "Go, Jem, Go!" and "Go, Khalil, Go!" as the sentences were handed down, in reference to JEM commander Khalil Ibrahim.
Eight other men were acquitted, two referred to a juvenile court and two others sent to psychiatric institutions.
Special tribunals set up in the wake of the attack have been judging the alleged rebels in batches over the last few weeks, usually sentencing around 10 to death at a time.
More than 222 people were killed when rebels thrust more than 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) across the sandy expanse from conflict-torn Darfur in western Sudan to Omdurman, just across the Nile from the presidential palace.
JEM last week rebuffed Qatari efforts to broker new peace talks, saying Khartoum had failed to honour a confidence-building deal brokered by Qatar in February aimed at paving the way for peace negotiations.
"We maintain our position to not sit down with the government unless real and clear progress is achieved on the ground, in terms of prisoners, displaced people, and especially after the ouster of humanitarian organisations," JEM official Jibril Khalil told AFP.
Last year, the United Nations expressed concern over the trials in the Sudanese courts especially created for the case and urged Khartoum to abolish capital punishment.
Defence lawyers have argued that the special courts are unconstitutional and have not guaranteed their clients' legal rights.
Under Sudanese law, any death sentence must be ratified by an appeal court and the high court. All death warrants must then be signed and approved by President Omar al-Beshir.
The condemned men's lawyer, Adam Bakr, said he would appeal the sentences.
Human rights groups have slammed Sudan for its use of capital punishment.
Amnesty International has said that it is "appalled that the Sudanese authorities continue to apply the death penalty after grossly unfair legal procedures."
The JEM last month said it would no longer hold peace talks with the Sudanese government after Khartoum's expulsion of 13 foreign aid agencies from Darfur.
It had already expressed serious doubts about the viability of negotiations with Beshir's regime after the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for his arrest on March 4 on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.
The world court accused Beshir of criminal responsibility for "exterminating, raping and forcibly transferring large numbers of civilians."
The United Nations says up to 300,000 people have died and 2.7 million fled their homes since ethnic minority rebels in Darfur rose up against the Arab-dominated regime in Khartoum in February 2003.
Sudan says 10,000 have been killed.

Date created : 2009-04-26