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Sudanese lawyers call for release of Musa Hilal supporters

April 16 - 2020 KHARTOUM
Members of the Revolutionary Awakening Council, Misteriya, October 2015 (File photo: RAC)
Members of the Revolutionary Awakening Council, Misteriya, October 2015 (File photo: RAC)

The defence team of a number of convicted members of the Revolutionary Awakening Council (RAC), founded by former janjaweed leader Musa Hilal, have requested amnesty for three of them.

The team of 11 lawyers requested Sudan’s Attorney General on Wednesday to recommend a pardon to Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan, Chairman of the Sovereign Council for Mohamed Hussein, Mohamed El Raees, and Hashim Tereibo.

They were held in Misteriya in North Darfur in November 2017, together with their leader Musa Hilal and other RAC members, including about 250 militiamen of the Border Guard Forces. The RAC and the militia refused to comply with the disarmament of civilians in Darfur and Kordofan, ordered by former President Omar Al Bashir in August that year.

The disarmament campaign was carried out by the Rapid Support Forces, Sudan’s main government militia, under the command of the current deputy chairman of the Sovereign Council, Lt Gen Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemeti’.

In their request to the Attorney General, the 11 lawyers state that the three were convicted for opposing the now defunct regime. At the time, it was considered a criminal act, but after the ousting of President Omar Al Bashir on April 11 last year, the charges are not valid anymore.

The lawyers say that the Constitutional Charter, signed by the Transitional Military Council and the Forces for Freedom and Change on August 4 last year, “recognises that the actions that led the country to [..] the fall of the former regime, and paved the way for the restoration of the country's constitutional life, were legitimate.

“Therefore, the imprisonment of those convicted for these actions violates the provisions of the Constitutional Charter, and reveals that the country remains hostage to the forces of the former regime.”

The lawyers further call for an investigation to find out who is responsible for “the fragmented implementation of the general amnesty” announced last year. “Everyone who is involved in violating the law should be held accountable.”

‘No legal ground’

In March, the Darfur Bar Association (DBA) denounced the continued detention of RAC members and their leader since November 2017. “There is no legal ground for the detention of these people under the transitional government, they must release all those who were detained for political reasons during Al Bashir regime.”

In a statement last week, the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) as well expressed its concerns about the detention without trial of 250 officers from the Border Guard Forces militia, including their leader Musa Hilal.

“ACJPS urges Sudan’s transitional government to drop charges and release all detainees, or in the event that the charges are not dropped, authorities must ensure that detainees are promptly brought before an independent and impartial court to stand trial and challenge the legality of their detention,” the centre said.

In the end of last year, the family and supporters of Musa Hilal organised several vigils and demonstrations in the country in protest against the prolonged detention without charges of their leader, his relatives, and his followers.

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