Sudan: Darfur Lawyers - 'Hilal Court Martial Invalid - Resisting Al Bashir Regime Is No Crime'

Demonstration in Arkaweet, Khartoum on Tuesday against the El Obeid massacre
19 September 2019

Khartoum / Darfur — The Darfur Bar Association has described the trial by Court Martial of former Janjaweed leader Musa Hilal and his affiliates as invalid and has no legal ground because the alleged crimes relate to the resisting and opposing the former regime, which are legitimate activities that cannot constitute crimes.

Yesterday, a statement issued by the Darfur Bar Association stated that the trial of Musa Hilal and his affiliates for crimes related to the opposing or resisting the former regime confirms the continuation of the policies of the former regime and its organs, which contradicts the goals of the revolution. Thus it is an insult to the role of the Forces for Freedom and Change and the newly formed government. Further, the Bar Association stressed in its statement that all activities concerning the resisting and opposing the former regime are legitimate and do not constitute crimes.

The military court on Monday prevented four lawyers assigned by Hilal's family to defend him, from attending the session held at the general army command in Khartoum.

'All activities concerning the resisting and opposing the former regime are legitimate and do not constitute crimes' - Darfur Bar Association

The trial of Musa Hilal, the leader of Mahamid and the head of the Revolutionary Awakening Council, which was postponed twice in this month, is due to resume on Monday.

The adjourned court sessions were accompanied by demonstrations demanding his release in front of the Military Headquarter in Khartoum and other cities in Darfur, including Mystria, Ed Daein, Zalinge,i and El Geneina.

Crowds gathered on Sunday in front of the army command, as well as in El Geneina, capital of West Darfur.

2017 arrest

Hilal was arrested in a raid on his stronghold in Misteriya, North Darfur, in November 2017. His sons, brothers, and entourage were detained as well, in addition to some 2,000 members of his clan.

Hilal, who refused to operate with the government's disarmament campaign, was transferred to Khartoum. His trial secretly began on April 30, 2018.

In July last year, the NISS arrested Hilal's hearing-impaired son, Ahmed Musa. The next month, several 'associates of Hilal' were arrested from a house at Gurrat El Zawiya area in North Darfur.

Atrocities in Darfur

Hilal is held responsible for the atrocities committed in Darfur against civilians after the conflict erupted in 2003. In that year, he was released from prison by the Sudanese government with the purpose to mobilise Darfuri Arab herders to fight the insurgency in the region.

With full government backing, Hilal's militiamen (janjaweed) targeted villages of African Darfuris. They rarely came near forces of the armed rebel movements.

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