Sudan court sentences 12 Darfur rebels to death

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A Sudanese court has sentenced 12 members of the Darfur rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) to death for taking part in a brazen 2008 assault on Khartoum in which more than 200 people were killed.
Today`s ruling, thought to be the last in a series of court cases resulting from the attack, brings to 103 the number of Darfur rebels condemned to die over the advance on the Sudanese capital. None have been executed so far, Reuters says.
Rebels drove across hundreds of miles of desert and scrubland and got within a few kilometres of Sudan’s presidential palace before they were stopped. Sudan says more than 200 people, many of them civilians, were killed.
One of the men sentenced to die is the half-brother of JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim. A thirteenth man was sentenced to a mental institution.
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, whose government puts the death toll at 10,000, on Darfur war crimes charges.
As the sentences were read out in court, the prisoners chanted “Welcome, welcome ICC”.
Senior JEM official Al-Tahir al-Feki denounced the ruling, saying it would hamper already troubled on-off peace talks with Khartoum in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar where the two have yet to agree on a ceasefire.
“This shows the government is not serious about solving the problem of Darfur,” he said. “While our team is negotiating in Doha, the Sudanese government continues to sentence our members to death, illegally, because they should be treated as prisoners of war.”
JEM and government troops have been battling close to Sudan’s border with Chad over the past fortnight. JEM have said they briefly captured two key settlements before being forced to retreat under heavy bombing from government planes.
“The more Sudan’s government builds up its forces to find a military solution to the Darfur problem, the more JEM builds up its forces. It creates a vicious circle,” Feki said.