A Sudanese court on Monday acquitted eight activists accused of killing a military intelligence agent at a protest rally last year in the capital, defense lawyers said.
Khartoum’s court ordered the release of the activists, according to the Lawyers’ Democratic Front, an umbrella of lawyers defending the pro-democracy protesters.
The activists were charged with the murder of Sgt. Mirghani al-Jili, who was found dead after pro-democracy protests in early March last year at the presidential palace in Khartoum.
Sudanese security forces shoot protester near capital
A statement from the ruling Sovereign Council at the time said al-Jili died after being hit in the head by a “sharp object” inflicted by some protesters during the protests.
About two dozen protesters were arrested in connection with the killing. Twelve were soon released and eight were sent to trial for their alleged involvement.
The detained protesters were members of resistance committees, the backbone of a popular uprising that forced the army to oust longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir in April 2019. They have been an integral part of the anti-coup protests since October 2021.
Chief Justice Mamoon Saleh said the case against the protesters was riddled with “many inaccuracies”, including allegations of torture, the official Suna news agency reported. He said that a witness brought to the court by prosecutors told that he was “coerced to give his testimony” against the suspects.
Saleh said the witness said he had been detained at a military intelligence facility for a week before appearing in court. The judge noted that the testimony of another witness was dismissed as “unreliable” as he was a co-worker of the deceased.
Suna reported that a defense lawyer, Zafar Kajjo, said that the legal team would file a complaint against those who instigated the witness to give false testimony.
Mayuson Moussa, another defense attorney, called the verdict “a right step”. He urged authorities in video comments to release other activists detained in anti-military protests.
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Dozens of protesters celebrated in the capital after the activists were released. Lawyers Democratic Front shared video footage of celebrations on the streets.
In a video, protester Hamza Saleh, who has spent nearly a year behind bars, was seen outside his home hugging other people who were celebrating and chanting “the revolution is the reunification of the people.”
Al-Jili was the second security personnel killed in protests in the African country after the military toppled the civilian-led government in an October 2021 coup. In January last year, a police officer was stabbed to death during a pro-democracy protest at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
The coup derailed Sudan’s fragile, short-lived transition to democracy after al-Bashir’s ouster. It plunged the country into chaos and nearly destroyed its economy.
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Organized international efforts forced the generals to reach a preliminary agreement in December to restore a democratic transition. Negotiations were still underway to finalize an agreement in which the military would hand over power to civilians.
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