13 December 2012

Sudan: Legislative Council South Darfur Rejects Governor's Justifications

Nyala — Members of the legislative council of South Darfur have rejected Governor Hammad Ismail's justifications about the attack on the Nyala special crime court for Darfur crimes.

Radio Dabanga reported on Monday, 10 December, that gunmen stormed the headquarters of the Nyala court and seriously injured a judge while kidnapping three defendants. According to sources, the militants are affiliated with the border guards.

Council members attribute the attack and kidnapping of the alleged perpetrators to 'complacency' and a lack of coordination with the regular forces.

The governor stated that the group which stormed the court is affiliated with the regular forces and 'took advantage of its status' and thus carried out the crime. He described the incident as an attack on the safety of the citizen and sovereignty of the state. Ismail stressed that dismantling of armed groups is in the hands of the ministry of defense and the federal government.

"Sole enemy"

Meanwhile, omda Abdullah Mohamed Abdullah, a sheikh from East Jebel Marra, described the governor as 'the sole enemy and a legit target for as long as he remains in Nyala'. He also accused the judge who sentenced the alleged perpetrators of conspiring with the governor.

The sheikh said that 'those who have been released are innocent and immature children who have been sentenced unjustly'. He added that the 'unjust verdict' prompted the defendants' relatives to intervene and show their rejection of the injustice. Furthermore, he described the court as 'the governor's court with judges loyal to the governor'.

A government source from South Darfur revealed that senior officers were involved in the court storming operation on Saturday. He commented that the distance between the court and the army garrison does not exceed 20 meters. He added that the governor's home is located at only 15 meters from the court and claims that there was enough time to 'eliminate them all rather than to arrest them'. He stressed senior officers were involved in similar cases in the past.

"No state authority"

A senior lawyer and legal activist from Nyala commented that the storming of the court and subsequent events are 'not surprising' in Darfur and said "there is no state authority; we are reaping now what the NCP has sown". Additionally, he explained that in the 'civilized world' security is the responsibility of the regular forces and should be subjected to control by the leadership, however Khartoum's regime has resorted to arming undisciplined groups in Darfur.

He added that wearing a khaki military uniform had become a trend and makes it difficult to distinguish between the military and other armed groups. The lawyer claims these armed groups have established fee collection points on certain roads, and that the state is unable to resolve 'this mess'.

He continued: "we have to expect worse than what has happened in the Nyala court" and pointed to the government's statements on the judicial situation in Darfur and prosecution of criminals as 'futile' since the state was not able to bring those who commit crimes to justice, due to the 'predominance of the logic of power over the logic rule of law'.

"Threat to the dignity of the state"

A political source said the incident poses a threat to the course of justice and dignity of the state and law and will lead to the development of a culture of impunity; which is already widespread in Darfur. He referred to a number of previous cases where courts were stormed by criminals in El Daein, East Darfur, Kabkabiya in North Darfur and Seleia and Jebel Moon in West Darfur.

The source added that in 2008, the Popular Defense Forces stormed the court in Nyala and demanded the release of their members who were on trial. He added that the city of Nyala has already witnessed a series of armed robberies in the nineties, when gunmen looted the Bank of Sudan led by a general and the armed forces' robbery of Al Tadamon Bank in 2010 in the center of the market.

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