A Sudanese court sentenced to death seven people accused of being members of the most powerful rebel group in the country’s war-riven Darfur region, state media said yesterday.
Fighting has declined in the mostly western territory from its peak in 2003 and 2004 but clashes between government troops, militias, bandits, tribes and rival rebel factions have continued.
The court, based in the North Darfur state capital of El Fasher, “sentenced seven of the defendants who belonged to the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) to death by hanging,” a statement on the state news agency SUNA said.
The report did not spell out the charges against the defendants, but said they had been found guilty under several laws, some dealing with anti-terrorism and banditry.
It said the case was related to an attack on a military convoy travelling from Khartoum to Nyala, the capital of South Darfur state, that killed dozens of soldiers.
The defendants had the right to appeal to the country’s supreme court, the report added. Three other defendants would be put into care homes because they had not reached the age of “criminal responsibility”.
Mainly non-Arab rebels in Darfur took up arms against Sudan’s government in 2003, accusing Khartoum of marginalising the remote territory.
Khartoum mobilised troops and mostly-Arab militias to crush the uprising, unleashing a wave of violence that Washington and some activists have called genocide. Khartoum dismisses the accusation.
Darfur’s main rebel groups said earlier this month they had formed an alliance to topple the government of President Omar al-Bashir, a move the United Nations condemned as “counterproductive”.
In July, Qatar brokered a peace agreement between Sudan and the Liberation and Justice Movement, an umbrella of small rebel groups. The main rebel groups have refused to join the deal.