Trial opens of four accused of killing Sudan policeman

Trial opens of four accused of killing Sudan policeman
The trial of four people accused of killing a senior police officer in January began in Khartoum amid accusations that the suspects were tortured in custody.
3 min read
29 May, 2022
The suspects displayed peace signs as they were brought to court [Getty]

The trial of four people accused of fatally stabbing a senior police officer during anti-coup protests in Sudan opened in the capital Khartoum on Sunday, an AFP correspondent said.

The judge ordered an investigation into allegations the four had been tortured in custody and adjourned the court until June 12, according to the correspondent.

General Ali Bareema was killed in January, according to authorities, one of two police fatalities during months of ongoing protests that erupted in the wake of an October 25 coup led by army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

Medics meanwhile say nearly 100 demonstrators have been killed in a crackdown against anti-coup protests.

Four protesters - Mohammed "Tupac" Adam, Mohamed al-Fattah, Mossaab al-Sherif and Ahmed al-Nanna - were arrested and charged in January over Bareema's death, and have remained in custody since.

In March, they held a week-long hunger strike in Khartoum's Kober prison to protest against "inhumane treatment", "police brutality" and a lack of due process, their lawyers said.

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Hundreds rallied in front of the courthouse to demand the release of the defendants, who made peace signs as they were escorted inside by security forces.

Dozens, including the policeman's family, formed a rival protest to demand justice.

The October coup derailed a fragile transition to civilian rule set in motion by a power-sharing deal between the army and protest leaders after the ouster of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir in 2019.

Since Burhan's power-grab, hundreds of activists have been detained and at least 98 people killed in a crackdown, according to pro-democracy medics.

Many of those have been shot dead by security forces, the medics say. Burhan has said some security force members "misused" their weapons during demonstrations, but no trials of personnel have been publicly announced.

Ahead of the trial of the four accused protesters, a local pro-democracy "resistance" committee said that the case amounted to "targeting revolutionaries with malicious reports to get rid of them".

On Saturday, thousands once more took to the streets of Sudan's capital Khartoum, where two protesters were killed. In a statement, the police blamed the deaths on demonstrators' "violent and unjustified hostility".

UN special representative Volker Perthes said he was "appalled" by the latest deaths, tweeting Sunday that "it is time for the violence to stop" and urging Sudan's authorities to lift an ongoing nationwide state of emergency.

On Sunday, senior military officials met with Burhan, recommending the state of emergency be lifted and people detained under an emergency law be freed, the ruling sovereign council said in a statement.

Military officials also recommended allowing the live TV unit of the Qatar-based network Al Jazeera to resume operations in Sudan, after authorities banned it in January for "unprofessional" coverage of protests.