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Darfuri sheikh Younis faces trial for ‘espionage’ next week

June 29 - 2018 KHARTOUM BAHRI
Darfuri Sheikh Matar Younis at the moment of his arrest in Zalingei, Central Darfur, in April (RD)
Darfuri Sheikh Matar Younis at the moment of his arrest in Zalingei, Central Darfur, in April (RD)

Sheikh Matar Younis and Adam Abdelshafi Haroun will face trial in the Khartoum North Court on Thursday July 5. The activist sheikh has been charged with espionage, among others.

Sheikh Younis, a blind man at the age of 48, was arrested at Zalingei market while drinking tea early April. He was transferred to Kober prison in Khartoum. Adam Abdelshafi Haroun, a shop owner, was arrested in his shop in El Geneina market and also transferred to Khartoum in December 2017.

Defence lawyers of Younis and Haroun described the charges against the two men, ‘undermining the constitutional order’, ‘staging war on the state’ and ‘espionage’ as being baseless. These charges are punishable with the death penalty.

Lawyer Abdelbasit Mohamed appealed to Sudanese people to support the two men and to attend the court session on Thursday morning. Lawyer Abdallah Furi called for the release of all the displaced people who are held in detention, including the two men.

“The accusations by the Sudanese security forces are false and misleading, setting up the local, regional and international public opinion against both Adam and Matar.”

A statement by the lawyers also called on Amnesty International and humanitarian organisations to intervene immediately to release the displaced people detained by the Sudanese government. Amnesty International openly called for urgent action to release Younis immediately and unconditionally as he is a prisoner of conscience.

Amnesty International is concerned that Younis’ continued arbitrary detention puts him at risk of torture and other ill-treatment.

It is unclear what has led to the current accusations against Sheikh Younis, a vocal critic of the government’s policy in Darfur. He is a scholar at the Great Mosque of Zalingei and heads a Koran School in Zalingei. The sheikh is also the founder of the Young Rebels Association for Freedom and Democracy.

In 2009, NISS officers prevented the sheikh from preaching at the Hasaheesa Mosque in the Central Darfur capital. Security agents attempted to arrest Younis in the stadium of Zalingei in February 2014, but the crowd present at the stadium prevented the action. In 2013 and 2014, the sheikh reported to this station about the Sudanese authorities recruiting young Darfuris to join the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces in South Kordofan.

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