March 13, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – A Sudanese court on Thursday sentenced the chairman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-North (SPLM-N/A), Malik Agar, and its secretary-general, Yasser Arman, and others to death by hanging in absentia for their involvement in events that occurred during the conflict that broke out in Blue Nile state in 2011.
- The secretary-general of the Sudan People Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), Yasir Arman, speaks during a joint news conference with chairman Malik Agar in Khartoum on 3 July 2011 (Photo: Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)
Al-Tijani Hassan, lawyer for the defendants, who attended the court hearing in the capital town of Sennar state of Singa told Agence France Presse (AFP) that a total of 17 people were handed the death penalty in today’s session.
Only 86 defendants appeared before the court while the trial has (23) was conducted in absentia .
The prosecutors had deposited their final arguments with the Special Criminal Court in Singa headed by Judge Abdel-Moneim Younis.
Younis pointed out that the defendants led by Agar and Arman face the death penalty or life imprisonment and confiscation of property according to the charges brought against them under criminal law, terrorism law as well as weapons and ammunition law.
The counts include terrorist crimes; crimes against the state; participation, aiding and abetting of crimes; crimes against humanity; the use of arms .
"It is a drama, baseless drama," SPLM-N spokesman Arnu Ngutulu Lodi told AFP after the verdict. "Nobody will recognise this."
Battles between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and SPLM-N forces in Blue Nile erupted in September 2011, with each side accusing the other of starting the fighting.
Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir immediately declared a state of emergency in the state, which allowed him to sack Agar, then the state’s governor, and later shut down SPLM-N’s offices in the country.
Last month, the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) suspended the first round of talks since 2013 on the conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states between Khartoum and SPLM-N and referred the matter to the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC).
The AUPSC asked AUHIP to reach an agreement by the end of April.
The SPLM-N proposed a draft framework providing to negotiate a new humanitarian deal and to extend it to the rebel held areas in Darfur.
The rebel group also renewed its demand for an inclusive and comprehensive peace process based on the 18 June framework agreement, demanding that Khartoum immediately lift a ban on its activities in preparation for a national conference to discuss the different conflicts in Sudan and constitutional reforms.