Mass demos follow Sudanese student guilty verdict
Sudanese students took to the streets in the national capital of Khartoum yesterday in protest against a court verdict condemning Asim Omar, a student at Khartoum University who was on trial on capital charges for allegedly killing a policeman. The court has postponed the verdict several times, and opposition voices have called for Omar's release.
Answering a call by opposition forces, mass demonstrations broke out after the court ruled Omar guilty, which means he faced the death penalty. The demonstrations swept across El Soug El Arabi, with protestors carrying a picture of Omar and shouting slogans rejecting the court’s ruling (see videos and pictures below).
The head of Omar’s defence team, Mohamed El Hafiz, said that the court postponed the final verdict to September 24 at the request of the defence and with the consent of the relatives of the deceased.
El Hafiz described the ruling as “surprising and contrary to the estimates of the defence which expected an acquittal of the accused”.
He said that the ruling was “full of flaws and mistakes and that the defence is studying and addressing it through the four litigation stages including review and then challenging the ruling before the Appeal and Constitutional Courts”.
He asserts that “the defence has sufficient reasons to challenge the ruling”.
He said aid that the testimony of the witnesses contradicted the investigation and trial, which is sufficient grounds for acquitting the accused.
“The question of criminal intent contained in the ruling was not available, explaining that the defence considered that the person in question is not Omar and that the indictment has not provided technical proof or reports.”
Amnesty and pardon
El Hafiz said that the defence managed to talk with the relatives of the dead policeman who agreed to sit-down to discuss the possibility of amnesty and pardon.
Hundreds of students demonstrated at the University of Khartoum in protest against the ruling against Omar amid unprecedented police and security crowds in front of the university.
A student leader at the University of Khartoum told Radio Dabanga that a state of anger and indignation prevailed among the students because of the judge's sentence of student Assem Omar for murder, which they considered as a clear targeting of students.
He explained that a number of speeches were organised at the headquarters of the main university rejecting the ruling against Omar and calling for escalation of the protests.
Yesterday the security authorities arrested journalist Omar El Farouq and other activists during their coverage of Omar’s ruling in Khartoum and the protests that followed the verdict.
The police came to the headquarters of the court where hundreds gathered and dispersed them by force at El Hurriya Street.
Asim Omar was held in May last year, against the backdrop of student protests at his university. “Omar did not know the reasons for his arrest and was not informed of the charges against him. He was promised to be released on bail, which later turned out to be misleading,” one of his lawyers told Radio Dabanga at the time.
Later he was told that he was charged with killing a police officer during the protests. He was detained for more than 14 months in detention centres of Sudan’s security apparatus and Kober Prison in Khartoum North, before he was brought to trial.
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