The trial of the former National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS)* agents accused of the January 2019 killing of student Mahjoub El Taj, began in Khartoum Central Court on Monday. It is alleged that El Taj died as a result of assault and torture in detention, following protests by students against the now deposed Al Bashir regime, for the right to peaceful freedom of expression.
According to the official Sudan News Agency (SUNA), the case referred to the Khartoum Central Court, presided over by Justice Zuheir Abdelrazig, contains charges against the accused under Article 130 (premeditated murder), Article 186 (crimes against humanity), and Article 21 (criminal complicity).
As reported by Radio Dabanga at the time, El Taj was a second year student at the Faculty of Medicine of El Razi University. He died after allegedly being subjected to torture in a detention centre of NISS. The student protests were part of a larger uprising across Sudan during the final months of the Al Bashir regime, that ultimately escalated into the overthrow of Al Bashir in April 2019.
Speaking to SUNA before the start of the trial, the slain student’s mother expressed confidence in the court, and the judges. She said that “Mahjoub’s relatives and “the revolutionaries have eagerly awaited the trial to see his killers brought to justice.
* The National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) was one of the most infamous and feared organs of the Al Bashir dictatorship, that acted ruthlessly against any political dissent. The NISS was officially disbanded in July 2019 by constitutional decree “restructuring the security apparatus, to cope with the political change in the country”. The decree amended several articles of the National Security Act of 2010, in order to restructure the NISS, to adjust its competences, and to change its name to the General Intelligence Service (GIS). The new intelligence service is no longer authorised to detain people or carry out search operations.
In September 2019, the Public Prosecutor in Omdurman issued an arrest warrant for former NISS chief Salah Abdallah, aka Salah Gosh, on charges of first degree murder. Gosh resigned as director-general of the NISS in April 2019, shortly after the overthrow of the Al Bashir regime, and was placed under house arrest, Gosh is believed to have fled the country and is still at large.
In October 2019, Attorney General Tajelsir El Hibir took measures to lift the immunity of NISS members, allowing them to face charges from the Public Prosecution.