Home | News    Saturday 14 August 2004

Sudanese court sentences a number of Darfur militiamen to death

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KHARTOUM, Sudan, Aug 14, 2004 (AP) — A Sudanese court on Saturday sentenced a number of militiamen to death for their roles in attacks last year on the Al-Fasher airport in western Sudan, the official news agency reported.

Talha Hassan Talha, chief judge of the Supreme Court in Northern Darfur, said the sentences stemmed from a series of attacks in April and May 2003 on the airport and surrounding area in North Darfur state.

Talha did not give the number of men involved, nor say whether they were Arab or African. The region has been suffering from 18 months of violence following long-standing tensions between the two communities.

"Any violator of the law is brought to the court and is being tried according to the evidence provided," he told SUNA. "We don’t care if he was from the Janjaweed (Arab militia) or from others."

Talha said others have been tried and sentenced but did not give details, SUNA said.

The government said 75 soldiers were killed in the clashes and 33 others captured. Twenty rebels were also killed in the fighting at the airport in Al-Fasher, some 1,400 kilometers (686 miles) west of Khartoum.

Darfur’s troubles stem from a long history of tensions between nomadic Arab tribes and African farming neighbors over dwindling water and agricultural land.

Those tensions exploded into violence in February 2003 when two African rebel groups took up arms over what they regarded as unjust treatment by the government in their struggle with Arab countrymen.

Since then, Arab militias known as Janjaweed have rampaged through the region, torching villages, killing thousands of black Africans and driving many more from their homes.

Thousands of people are believed to have died and more than 1 million displaced.

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