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Darfur militia leader Hilal’s military trial begins

May 4 - 2018 KHARTOUM
Musa Hilal arrives in Khartoum after his arrest in North Darfur in November 2017 (File photo: RD)
Musa Hilal arrives in Khartoum after his arrest in North Darfur in November 2017 (File photo: RD)

The military trial of Musa Hilal, former janjaweed leader and chairman of the Revolutionary Awakening Council, secretly began in court on Monday. The hearing has been adjourned to May 13.

State Minister at the Ministry of Defence Ali Mohamed Salim said that the trial “continues in the sense that Hilal belongs to the military forces”. In the press statement Salim said that Hilal had requested the use of lawyers to defend him.

In November 2017, Sheikh Musa Hilal was arrested during an ambush in the Mesteriya area, along with his sons, brothers, and entourage, by elements of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militia and was subsequently transferred to Khartoum. Hilal refused to cooperate with the government’s campaign of disarmament and arms collection.

The Revolutionary Awakening Council has threatened that the military trial of Sheikh Musa Hilal and detention of his sons and companions is “a step to ignite the great strife whose consequences and complications will occur in unpredictable terms”.

The council issued a statement this week saying that the arrest of Hilal, his sons and his affiliates was accompanied by the arrest of more than 2,000 people from Darfur.

In July last year, Khartoum announced a large disarmament campaign in the country, to begin with in Darfur and Kordofan. At the end of October, the window for the voluntary handover of weapons ended and compulsory collection began. Darfuri government officials reported that about 30,000 weapons were collected during the voluntary phase. The number of illegal weapons in the region, however, is estimated at about 700,000 pieces.

Revolutionary Awakening Council

The RAC is an association of Hilal’s combatants and native administration leaders in North Darfur. Its military commanders have taken control of the Jebel ‘Amer gold mining area in El Sareif Beni Hussein locality. According to a UN Security Council report in April 2016, Hilal is profiting from vast gold sales in Darfur.

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