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Trial of Sudan opposition leaders turns into political demonstration

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February 23, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – The trial of Sudan’s opposition leader Farouk Abu Issa and a prominent rights activist Amin Mekki Madani on Monday has turned into a political demonstration.

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Sudanese supporters of opposition leader Farouk Abu Issa gather to protest as he arrives at court in the capital, Khartoum, on 23 February 2015 (Photo: AFP/Ebrahim Hamid)

Hundreds of opposition supporters gathered in front of the courthouse in Khartoum prior to the arrival of Abu Issa and Madani and shouted slogans against the government.

Abu Issa who chairs the opposition National Consensus Forces (NCF) and Amin Mekki Medani who heads the alliance of the Sudanese Civil Society Organisations have been detained since the 6th December 2014 after being signatories to the “Sudan Call” accord with the rebel umbrella Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) and the opposition National Umma Party (NUP) in Addis Ababa three days before their arrest.

Earlier this month, Sudan’s justice minister, Mohamed Bushara Dousa, refused to dismiss charges filed against Abu Issa and Mandi and asked the office of the prosecutor of crimes against the state to transfer their case to the relevant court.

The case was then referred to a special terrorism court set up by the chief justice according to the provision of the Terrorism Act on the grounds that charges filed against Abu Issa and Madani include terrorism charges.

The speaker of the defence team, al-Muiz Hadra, told Sudan Tribune that Monday’s hearing session was held in a positive atmosphere from the judge and the defendants and the defence and prosecution teams.

He stressed the judge denied the defence request to release the defendants on a regular bail under the pretext that the request was premature, saying he also rejected a defence objection against photographing defendants by mobile phone cameras.

Hadra pointed the defendants complained to the judge about the degrading treatment they received from their guards en route to court, saying the driver of the truck which took them to court drove recklessly and broke the speed limit.

The prosecution, from its side, read the indictment sheet which included six charges among which article (51) of the criminal code relating to waging war against the state and article (50) undermining the constitutional order, both crimes are punishable by death.

The head of prosecution, Yasir Ahmed Mohamed, said the Sudan Call charter signed by Abu Issa and Madani is considered a criminal project which aims to harm the state and uses force against the legitimate power.

He underscored the signing of the Sudan Call with the SRF was “unjustified”, pointing the charter called for overthrowing the regime and escalating military operations besides committing acts of sabotage at universities and defamation of the state.

Mohamed added that implementation of the Sudan Call items will result in harming the state and igniting sedition besides changing the regime unconstitutionally, noting the charter called for preventing holding of elections which is considered an act of illegal seizure of power.

He stressed the prosecution have the full supporting documents and witnesses, calling upon the court to hand down the maximum penalty on both defendants.
However, the defence team requested release of their clients on the bases of an article which prohibits execution of an individual who reaches the age of 70 years.

Abu Issa is 81 years old while Madani is 75 years old.

The court session was attended by several Western diplomats including form the United States and the European Union (EU).

The judge allowed the defendants to sit with their lawyers for three hours following the court session. They were also allowed to sit with their families before they were returned to Kober prison in Khartoum north.

(ST)

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