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Sudanese court acquits anti-austerity protesters

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High Secondary School students protest against the rise in drug prices in Khartoum North on 24 Nov (ST Photo)

December 4, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - A Khartoum court on Sunday acquitted 25 students and an university professor charged with offences including disturbing the peace and public nuisance for their participation in peaceful protests against rise in drug prices last November.

The defendants had been arrested following their participation in a demonstration in Africa Street near the Khartoum International Airport to protest the increase in the price of the medicines last month within the framework of an austerity plan providing also the rise in fuel and electricity prices.

The judge of Khartoum-Center Criminal Court, Osama Ahmed Abdallah, rejected the riot charges against the defendants, saying there was no any breach of public peace or disturbance to public order during the peaceful set-in.

He pointed that the prosecutor and the witnesses denied the use of force by the protesters, adding the latter didn’t stand in the middle of the street to obstruct vehicle traffic and didn’t chant slogans during the sit-in.

The judge further underlined that some defendants said they had no relations with the sit-in but were waiting for public transportation vehicles. Others said they were in the street with some colleagues when the security forces arrested them.

Last November, Sudan central bank announced it would no longer provide US dollar for drug importation at a special rate of 7,5 Sudanese pounds (SDG), forcing pharmaceutical companies to buy the dollar from the black market at 17,5 pounds.

Also, the Sudan Pharmacy Council (SPC) had issued a new list showing the price of basic medicines has drastically increased by 100 to 300 percent.

But the government sacked the head of the Council and cancelled the rise in drug prices following a large wave of protests stirred by the SPC decision across the country.

(ST)

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