Sudan sentences two to death over Darfur rebel raid


A Sudanese court sentenced two men to death yesterday for their part in a surprise attack on Khartoum by rebels from western Darfur region in May 2008.

The sentence brought to 105 the number of people who have been handed down death sentences for joining the unprecedented raid on the Sudanese capital. No executions have so far been reported.

Fighters from Darfur’s insurgent Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) drove hundreds of kilometres (miles) across desert and scrubland to a few kilometres from the presidential palace before they were stopped by government troops.

Sudan says more than 200 people, many of them civilians, were killed in the raid.

Stalled peace talks between JEM and the government are due to restart in a few days in Doha. No one was immediately available to comment from JEM.

Five men were cleared of all charges and released. Two other men were convicted of helping a JEM leader escape from Khartoum after the raid. One was jailed for three years, and the judge ordered the other to be released as he was aged over 70.

The United Nations says 300 000 people have died in Darfur since ethnic and politically driven conflict there flared in 2003.

The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to face charges of orchestrating war crimes in Darfur. Bashir’s ruling party rejects any cooperation with the ICC, and the government puts the Darfur death count at 10 000.