April 15, 2009 (KHARTOUM) — A Sudanese special court sentenced to death ten rebels from the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) for their participation in an attack against the Sudanese government in Khartoum where more than 220 people were killed last May.
Today’s verdict brings to more than 60 the number of the rebels condemned to death. Abdel Aziz Abu Usher, a half brother of the JEM chairman is among those who are sentenced since last year in a series of trials following the attack.
The court stated that the rebels were found guilty of involvement in an attack on Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman on May 10, 2008. Also the judges ordered the release of three others.
The Sudanese government and the rebel group signed a goodwill agreement last February in Doha providing that the two parties would exchange prisoners of war. Both sides released some of the detained prisoners, as a goodwill gesture.
Reacting to the death sentences, the spokesperson of the rebel movement, Ahmed Hussein Adam condemned the verdicts saying they had been issued by an “Inquisition Court” that was implementing “the political will of the regime.”
He also reminded that the government delegation had agreed in the Doha deal that the detained rebels are prisoners of war and they should be treated as such.
The rebel official further said that these sentences breach the Geneva Convention on the POWs besides the Doha Agreement.
The attack on Khartoum was the first time any rebel group had brought their fight to the capital. The rebels were stopped at bridges over the river Nile a few kilometers (miles) from the presidential palace and army headquarters.
JEM suspended, last month, the peace process brokered by the Qatari government and the joint peace mediator in order to end the six year conflict in Darfur. The Doha agreement meant to create a conducive environment for the peace process through a series of measures to build confidence between the warring parties.
However, the rebel movement accused the Sudanese government of violating the signed deal because of the expulsion of 13 international aid groups working in the region. Sudan justified its decision by saying the NGOs had been cooperating with the International Criminal Court which had issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omer Al-Bashir.
JEM asked Khartoum to reverse its decision and allow the return of the expelled aid groups while Sudan says it will fill the humanitarian gaps with local organizations.