10 December 2012

Sudan: Gunmen Enter Nyala Court, Beat Judge and Release Defendants

Nyala — A group of armed men in four Land Cruiser vehicles allegedly raided the headquarters of the Nyala special court for crimes in Darfur on Saturday, 8 December, and kidnapped three defendants after shooting at the court's police and severely beating the judge.

The defendants are on trial for looting 450 thousand US dollars and 45 million Sudanese pounds belonging to UNAMID, approximately three months ago. The police commander of South Darfur, Major General Taha Jalal al Deen, said in a press statement that 'a known armed movement acted immediately after the judge read the sentence of the fourth defendant and attacked the court'. The fourth defendant was sentenced to death, he added. The governor of South Darfur, Hammad Ismail, stated a retrial will take place but refused to give an exact date.

'Released by family members'

For his part, one of the released defendants, Tijani Baji Al Toum, acknowledged to Radio Dabanga that 'family members' freed them by force after attacking the court with white arms. At the same time, he said that the majority of his family 'is affiliated with the border guards' but denied being released by border guards.

He added that he considered the death sentence 'unjust' and denied looting the money belonging to UNAMID. He announced that they decided to 'declare war' on the government of South Darfur, noting that they spent four months in detention in the Nyala military prison.

'Dramatic escalation'

Witnesses told Radio Dabanga that armed forces with different types of arms arrived in six Land Cruiser vehicles during the sentencing session.

The situation escalated 'dramatically' after the verdict was read by the judge, they added. The militants stormed the court and randomly fired in the air. They severely beat the judge with whips, as well as seizing the guards' weapons.

Lastly, they abducted three of the defendants and took them to the neighbourhood of Al Tadamon near the neighbourhood of Fallujah in the east of the city where several other vehicles were waiting.

According to sources, the militants shortly celebrated their victory expressing joyous chants and heavily firing in the air. Then the militants moved in an unknown direction, accompanied by the defendants.

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