Home | News    Sunday 11 November 2007

Sudan sentences ten to death for beheading journalist

November 10, 2007 (KHARTOUM) — Ten Darfuris accused of beheading a Sudanese journalist were sentenced to death by firing squad on Saturday, a punishment usually reserved only for the military, the defence said.

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A Sudanese girl carries a portrait of Mohammed Taha Mohammed Ahmed — the editor-in-chief of Al-Wifaq — after his assassination in 2006. (AFP)

Sudanese editor of the al-Wifaq daily Mohamed Taha was kidnapped by armed men from his home last year and his decapitated body was found the following morning lying on the street in southern Khartoum.

"The court decided to sentence all 10 to death by firing sqaud for which there is no basis in the law," said Kamal Omer, leading member of the defence team for the 10 accused, all of whom are from the Darfuri Fur tribe.

The 10 accused, who belong to the Fur tribe from the troubled region of Darfur, were found guilty of the killing of Mohammed Taha Mohammed .
The 10 did not react to the verdict while members of the victim’s family shouted "long live justice."

The crime shocked the journalism world in Sudan and echoed images of the brutal killings by Al Qaeda militiants in Iraq. Taha was himself an Islamist but had angered others by reprinting an article questioning the roots of the Prophet Mohammed.

Authorities said he also angered Darfuris by writing articles questioning the morals of Darfuri women, while a counter-insurgency campaign in Sudan’s west created one of the world’s worst humantiarian crises with aid agencies documenting widespread rape.

Omer said the youngest accused was just 16 years old with the others ranging up to their mid-40s. He said the court was influenced by the political establishment in the unprecedented ruling. Anyone condemned to death in Sudan is usually hanged.

"The court was full of security services and government figures," he said, adding he would appeal the sentence.

"We will take the legal route, go to the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court," Omer said.

Omer had himself been imprisoned overnight for making public comments that his clients had been tortured to extract their confessions.

Amnesty International has said they and other political prisoners had also been tortured to try to extract confessions.

The authorities deny any torture.

"This is a police state,that is why we have this backwards, incorrect ruling," Omer said.

(Reuters/AFP)