Thursday, September 26, 2019

Sudan: ICC will ask new govt to extradite Bashir

NOTE from Sudan Watch Editor:  According to an article by Ayin re-printed in full here below, the International Criminal Court (ICC) charges against Sudan’s former president Omar al-Bashir cannot be cancelled out by local trials since the ICC charges involve a threat to international security and cannot be waived.  Also:
  • "The two arrest warrants issued against Bashir are not subject to any statute of limitations, and the court will ask the coming government to extradite him," ICC spokesman Fadi el-Abdallah told Ayin.
  • Regarding the possibility of accepting Bashir's trial in Sudan, Abdallah stipulated that the government should make such a request with guarantees that ensure an impartial investigation following the same charges initially filed by the international court.
  • Bashir’s defence team told Ayin the ICC charges against the former president do not concern them as the decision in this matter belongs to the state and its officials.
  • Defence lawyer Mohammed el Hassan el Ameen said they are focusing on Bashir’s charges of possession of foreign money in his office at the general command exclusively. “We, as a defence team, have not addressed the issue of the ICC, and there is a near agreement within the defence team, which is composed of more than 100 lawyers, not to go into the ICC issue and the charges against Bashir,” he said. 
Article from and by Ayin Network.com
Dated Tuesday 17 September 2019 
Bashir national trial continues, but ICC trial remains blocked
As the trial of deposed former president Omar Al-Bashir is set to continue this week, several sources claim former members of the ruling party, the National Congress Party, had prepared a plan to ensure the former president does not appear before the International Criminal Court and remain tried within the country.

Last week a packed courtroom heard the testimony of the former president’s office manager, Yaseer Basheer, claiming that the president gave him US$ 11 million, of which US$ 5 million was given to the notorious militia, the Rapid Support Forces. Bashir also gave US$ 4 million to the director and deputy director of the International University of Africa, a private institution with links to Islamists, according to the university’s accountant. Speaking for the first time in court, Bashir claimed he had received US$25 million from the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, among other sources. The former 30-year long authoritarian ruler is facing charges of possessing illicit foreign currency.
Speaking for the first time in court, Bashir claimed he had received US$ 25 million from the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, among other sources.

While Bashir’s gross fiscal mismanagement is gradually revealed in a national court, charges of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide in Darfur by the International Criminal Court (ICC) may never see the light of day.

Fearing their own implication through an ICC trial, several former ruling party cadres have lobbied members of the Sovereign Council to prevent Bashir’s trial to leave the national stage, according to sources close to the former ruling party that cannot be named for security reasons. The decision to ensure Bashir did not face the two ICC arrest warrants against him took place directly after the former president’s overthrow on 11 April, according to near-identical statements from the sources.

The plan to spare Bashir international legal scrutiny was adopted by the then Chairman of the Political Committee in the Military Council, General Omar Zain al Abideen, and announced during a press conference following Bashir’s ouster. Several National Congress Party (NCP) lawmakers and Gen. Abideen decided to file a police report against Bashir to bring him before an internal court, effectively blocking the ICC whose laws do not allow it to intervene in the event of legitimate national judicial proceedings.
“The two arrest warrants issued against Bashir are not subject to any statute of limitations, and the court will ask the coming government to extradite him,” ICC spokesman Fadi al-Abdullah told Ayin.

ICC
But the ICC has confirmed its determination to pursue Bashir at all costs, outlining the cases in which Bashir’s arrest warrants have been issued are not subject to the statute of limitations. “The two arrest warrants issued against Bashir are not subject to any statute of limitations, and the court will ask the coming government to extradite him,” ICC spokesman Fadi al-Abdullah told Ayin. Regarding the possibility of accepting Al-Bashir’s trial in Sudan, Abdullah stipulated that the government should make such a request with guarantees that ensure an impartial investigation following the same charges initially filed by the international court.

Advocate and international law expert Salih Mahmood said the ICC charges against Bashir cannot be canceled out by local trials since the ICC charges involve a threat to international security and cannot be waived. Mahmood supported the jurisprudence behind the ICC charges against Bashir, stressing that the national courts lacked independence and obstructed legal procedures by the existing authority at the time. 

The advocate claims these circumstances are still the same. “International law gives priority to national courts, but this priority is given in a climate of freedom, independence of the judiciary, and a favourable political situation consistent with international standards of justice,” Mahmood said. “The jurisdiction of the Sudanese courts to try Bashir does not apply –we have not yet seen the independence of the judiciary or even a favourable atmosphere for the trial of Bashir at home.”
Calls for judicial reform are growing. Mass protests organised by the Sudan Professionals Association took place on Thursday in Khartoum and several other towns calling for the replacement of senior judiciary officials and justice for those killed during the protests earlier this year. Sovereign Council member Siddiq Tawer tried to placate the crowd in Khartoum. “The appointment of an independent judiciary chief and a general attorney is one of the government’s priorities considering that justice is one of the demands of the revolution.  All those who have committed a crime against the people and country during the previous regime’s rule will be held accountable,” said Tawer.
“We, as a defense team, have not addressed the issue of the ICC, and there is a near agreement within the defense

Defence team not addressing ICC
Bashir’s defense team told Ayin the ICC charges against the former president do not concern them as the decision in this matter belongs to the state and its officials.

Defense lawyer Mohammed el Hassan el Ameen said they are focusing on Bashir’s charges of possession of foreign money in his office at the general command exclusively. “We, as a defense team, have not addressed the issue of the ICC, and there is a near agreement within the defense team, which is composed of more than 100 lawyers, not to go into the ICC issue and the charges against Bashir,” he said. “There are many statements made in the media by the leaders of the transitional government that affirm they are the decision-makers in trying the president internally or handing him over to the International Criminal Court,” he adds. “It’s not time yet.”

Countless conflict-displaced people in the western Darfur region may not agree with Bashir’s defense team. Mowada Yacoub is an internally displaced person [IDP] still eking out a living in Zam Zam camp in North Darfur and told Ayin justice for Bashir and his associates past war crimes should be a priority for the new transitional government. “The Bashir government is the reason why we are in the IDP camps and lost our families,” Yacoub told Ayin. “I lost my father, I lost my brother, grandfather, uncle –all of this happened during this war. We don’t feel happy after that – even our house was set on fire and our land taken by militias. I lost all of that because of the Bashir government.”

- - -

FURTHER READING
From the website of the International Criminal Court (ICC):

Pre-trial
Once the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) has sufficient evidence against an individual, it submits a request to the Pre-Trial judges to issue a warrant of arrest or summons to appear.  

Al Bashir Case
The Prosecutor v. Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir
The first warrant for arrest for Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir was issued on 4 March 2009, the second on 12 July 2010.  The suspect is still at large.  
Next steps:  Until Omar Al Bashir is arrested and transferred to the seat of the Court in The Hague, the case will remain in the Pre-Trial stage. The ICC does not try individuals unless they are present in the courtroom.
Charges: five counts of crimes against humanity: murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture, and rape; two counts of war crimes: intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population as such or against individual civilians not taking part in hostilities, and pillaging; three counts of genocide: by killing, by causing serious bodily or mental harm, and by deliberately inflicting on each target group conditions of life calculated to bring about the group's physical destruction, allegedly committed at least between 2003 and 2008 in Darfur, Sudan.  

Alleged crimes (non-exhaustive list)

Pre-trial Chamber II 
Situation in Darfur, Sudan in the case of The Prosecutor v. Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir.  Decision on the non-compliance by the Republic of Djibouti with the request to arrest and surrender Omar Al-Bashir to the Court and referring the matter to the United Nations Security Council and the Assembly of the State Parties to the Rome Statute.  

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Sudan: The last days of Bashir in the palace

  • On 30 August 2019 during the third trial session of Sudan's former president Omar al-Bashir, the court in Khartoum indicted Bashir on charges of suspicious enrichment and illegal dealing with foreign exchange.  This follows charges in May with incitement and involvement in the killing of protestors during the demonstrations that led to his overthrow in April. 
  • According to the spokesperson of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Bashir’s 2009 arrest warrant for crimes against humanity under the ICC remains valid.  
  • “The court has and will continue seeking the compliance of Sudan with its obligation under international law and in relation to the resolution 1539 of the United Nations Security Council,” ICC Spokesperson Fadi el Abdallah told Ayin.
  • Bashir’s trial will resume tomorrow [07 Sep 2019] while a future trial at the Hague may become a reality if Sudan’s justice system cannot demonstrate a genuine national investigation and prosecution will take place, Abdallah added.  Full story:
Article from and by Ayin Network.com
Dated 06 September 2019 
The last days of Bashir in the palace, new days in court
The moment millions of Sudanese entered into the vicinity of the General Command of the Army Headquarters on 6 April [2019], the deposed former President al-Bashir was sitting on a chair with another set of empty chairs around him in the courtyard of his residence. Outside his presidential palace overlooking the Nile, protests against his rule intensified, eventually ousting him five days later.

Ayin conducted an exclusive interview with close confidants of the former president that worked within the presidential palace. The sources described to Ayin the scene they saw of the former president just days prior to his arrest. The names of these sources remain confidential for their security.

To curb stress, former president Bashir pulled tattered strings off his Muslim skull cap while three of his presidential aides entered the room. The conversation was stilted and everyone sat in awkward silence. To cut the tension, according to a witness, one of the two aides attempted to make small talk about Bashir’s cap, noting the colour and how it was the first time to see the former president wearing such a hat. Bashir responded by noting the skull cap was the “fashion of the day” and were worn among young people. Gaining access to the presidential palace and then Al-Bashir’s residence was challenging for the three presidential aides –loud protests calling for Bashir to step down could be heard all around them.

They were convinced that they must meet and console the former president in the palace at this difficult time, according to one of the aides. While driving tinted-window cars through the alleyways of central Khartoum to reach al-Bashir’s residence, the three aides could see the multitude of protestors and realised their days of employment were numbered. None of them could have predicted the turnout against the former president. The short distance from the presidential palace to the guest house where Bashir resided seemed longer than ever, the aide told Ayin. The short road appeared to represent the end of Bashir’s 30-year regime. 

The aides entered the former president’s residence at around 5 pm on 6 April where Bashir and his guards sat on full alert, covering the entrances, fearing an attack. A tear gas grenade could be heard outside from security forces in a futile attempt to disperse a crowd of millions in front of the army command post. Bashir could clearly hear the crowds chanting outside, calling for his ouster, according to the inside sources. 

Abdallah al-Bashir, the President’s brother, appeared with a number of Bashir’s bodyguards, and after the salute, he whispered in the president’s ear and called on the guards accompanying him to return to the palace. It turned out that he was accompanying them to the roof of the new palace building inside the general command of the army, where he was monitoring the masses outside and relaying what he saw to his brother. According to one of the former president’s aides, he had never seen Bashir appear so weak and distraught.

Another witness Ayin spoke to claims he saw the former head of security, Salah Gosh, speak to Bashir, allegedly promising to clear the area of the protestors outside his residence. But this never took place.
The break up that did not break
On 7 April, the security committee told President Bashir of their decision to break up the sit-in in front of the army headquarters. Bashir gathered his family and informed them of the decision and asked his relatives who were with him in the guest house to leave the palace and ordered his younger brother, Musaab, to stay with him, according to the two confidential sources that spoke to Ayin.

While waiting for the commencement of the security operation to break up the sit-in, Musaab and others went up to the roof of the palace to see the operation and how it was being carried out. Musab was accompanied by a number of the former president’s guards and security officers. Bullets could be heard. The source of bullets was not known to them before they learned moments later that an army force sided with the revolutionaries and exchanged fire with the security forces and even repulsed them to keep the sit-in going.

This was a difficult reality for those who planned to break up the sit-in and waited for the hour of victory to return directly from the top of their building to inform the former president that the operation had been successful. Instead, no genuine counter-attack against the protestors took place and Bashir would eventually find himself re-accommodated from a palace to a prison where he is currently facing trial. 

Sudan's Bashir 'took $90m from Saudi crown prince', corruption trial hears
[See tweet by Middle East Eye here:

On trial at home, possibly abroad
On 30 August during Bashir’s third trial session, the court indicted Bashir on charges of suspicious enrichment and illegal dealing with foreign exchange. This follows charges in May with incitement and involvement in the killing [https://3ayin.com/june-3-massacre/] of protestors during the demonstrations that led to his overthrow in April. 

Far from the glittery walls of the palace, the former president now sits in a cage in front of Justice Al Sadiq Abdul Rahman who refused a bail request, citing the law preventing such a measure for crimes that involve prison sentences that potentially exceed 10 years. 

But Bashir may face further trials in a different setting. According to the spokesperson of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Bashir’s 2009 arrest [https://www.icc-cpi.int/darfur/albashirwarrant for crimes against humanity under the ICC remains valid. “The court has and will continue seeking the compliance of Sudan with its obligation under international law and in relation to the resolution 1539 of the United Nations Security Council,” ICC Spokesperson Fadi el Abdallah told Ayin. Bashir’s trial will resume tomorrow [07 Sep 2019] while a future trial at the Hague may become a reality if Sudan’s justice system cannot demonstrate a genuine national investigation and prosecution will take place, Abdallah added.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Sudan: Darfur lawyers say Musa Hilal's trial is invalid (Part 18)

‘All activities concerning the resisting and opposing the former regime are legitimate and do not constitute crimes’ –Darfur Bar Association

Article from and by Radio Dabanga.org
Dated Thursday 19 September 2019 - KHARTOUM / DARFUR
Darfur lawyers: ‘Hilal Court Martial invalid - resisting Al Bashkir regime is no crime'
Photo: Former Janjaweed leader Musa Hilal (File photo)

The Darfur Bar Association has described the trial by Court Martial of former Janjaweed leader Musa Hilal and his affiliates as invalid and has no legal ground because the alleged crimes relate to the resisting and opposing the former regime, which are legitimate activities that cannot constitute crimes.

Yesterday, a statement issued by the Darfur Bar Association stated that the trial of Musa Hilal and his affiliates for crimes related to the opposing or resisting the former regime confirms the continuation of the policies of the former regime and its organs, which contradicts the goals of the revolution. Thus it is an insult to the role of the Forces for Freedom and Change and the newly formed government. Further, the Bar Association stressed in its statement that all activities concerning the resisting and opposing the former regime are legitimate and do not constitute crimes.

The military court on Monday [16 Sep] prevented four lawyers assigned by Hilal’s family to defend him, from attending the session held at the general army command in Khartoum.

The trial of Musa Hilal, the leader of Mahamid and the head of the Revolutionary Awakening Council, which was postponed twice in this month, is due to resume on Monday [23 Sep].

The adjourned court sessions were accompanied by demonstrations demanding his release in front of the Military Headquarter in Khartoum and other cities in Darfur, including Mystria, Ed Daein, Zalinge,i and El Geneina.

Crowds gathered on Sunday in front of the army command, as well as in El Geneina, capital of West Darfur.

2017 arrest
Hilal was arrested in a raid on his stronghold in Misteriya, North Darfur, in November 2017. His sons, brothers, and entourage were detained as well, in addition to some 2,000 members of his clan.


In July last year, the NISS arrested Hilal’s hearing-impaired son, Ahmed Musa. The next month, several ‘associates of Hilal’ were arrested from a house at Gurrat El Zawiya area in North Darfur.

Atrocities in Darfur
Hilal is held responsible for the atrocities committed in Darfur against civilians after the conflict erupted in 2003. In that year, he was released from prison by the Sudanese government with the purpose to mobilise Darfuri Arab herders to fight the insurgency in the region.

With full government backing, Hilal’s militiamen (janjaweed) targeted villages of African Darfuris. They rarely came near forces of the armed rebel movements.

View original: https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/darfur-lawyers-hilal-court-martial-invalid-resisting-al-bashir-regime-is-no-crime

Monday, September 23, 2019

Sudan: Darfur Border Guards will not merge with RSF (Part 16)

NOTE from Sudan Watch Editor:  The following article was published one month before Musa Hilal was arrested.  Hilal was arrested on 17 November 2017 by Hemeti's Rapid Support Forces and flown to Khartoum. 

To this day Hilal has not been permitted visits from his relatives. I cannot find any news regarding his wellbeing or how he is being treated. One report says he has been kept in solitary confinement.  

Medics from a body such as the AU, UN or Red Cross should urgently push for a visit to check on his welfare and that of the others who were arrested with him.

One report claims ten of them went on hunger strike and there is mention of ill-treatment. I fear they are being badly treated and their human rights ignored.

Article from and by Radio Dabanga.org
Dated 17 August 2017 - DARFUR
Musa Hilal: ‘Darfur Border Guards will not integrate with RSF’
Musa Hilal (File photo: Hamid Abdulsalam / Unamid)

Musa Hilal, head of the Revolutionary Awakening Council, and chief of the Mahameed clan, has strongly defended the Darfuri Border Guards militia and renewed his refusal to integrate it to the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) led by Lieutenant General Mohamed Hamdan (Hemeti).

In an interview with Radio Dabanga, former Janjaweed* leader Hilal said the he was the one who established and presented the Border Guards initiative to the army in Darfur to defeat the rebellion.

Hilal said that he recruited the Border Guards in Darfur “which the army provided with military equipment, weapons and ammunition, led the wars against the rebellion in Darfur, and secured the country from the armed movements…  and defeated the rebellion in its large camps of Berdi to Ein Siro and others in Darfur”.

In a clear reference to Hemeti, Hilal said he has been “taken advantage of, pushed apart, and replaced by someone”.

He launched a fierce attack on the RSF, which he described as mercenaries.

He said that “these militiamen have nothing to do with the Rizeigat and Darfur people who have experienced natural challenges from neighbouring countries, famines and wars in their countries. He stressed that “these militiamen do not belong to the armed forces and their affiliates have no military files nor paid monthly salaries of the armed forces.

“They are paid bonuses from foreign countries every six months,” he alleges.

“They are real mercenaries being used for begging from Qatar and Saudi Arabia."

Hilal mocked the members of the RSF and their recruiting methods saying: “they take rank badges in sacks and distribute them to people in the open.”

‘Group seized’
Sudan’s Vice-President Hasabo Abdelrahman confirmed seizing a group of close followers of Musa Hilal on the Darfur-Libya border. Abdelrahman alleges that the planning to recruit 1,000 people from Darfur in favour of the Libyan army commander Khalifa Haftar.

On Tuesday night, Sudan’s Vice-President Hasabo Abdelrahman told media “If we have to confront Musa Hilal we will do, we will not allow whoever would conspire with Hafter and would not allow anyone to get out of the control of the state and we have only a great God”.

Abdelrahman pointed out that the issue of collecting weapons is a matter of “life or death” and that they would not back down from its implementation

Tribal leaders
Abdelrahman said that the arrest of leaders of native administration of Maaliya and Rizeigat took place because of their negative role in the conflict and failure to control it, despite allowing them time to play a positive role in the prevention of sedition.

He announced seizure of 1,765 Land Cruisers in the past period.

He explained that 65,000 vehicles have been smuggled from the neighbouring countries, especially Libya, South Sudan and Egypt.

Prosecution
South Darfur state authorities announced the establishment of a specialised prosecution to prosecute critics of a government campaign in the province to collect weapons from and regulate the vehicles coming from neighbouring countries.

The state Governor, Adam El Faki, said the local authorities decided to allow 700 vehicles along with 460 trucks 10-days to adjust their status by completing their customs duties

On Wednesday he told a news conference in Nyala that the native administrations have agreed to the government's plan to collect weapons

He announced the establishment of a prosecutor to prosecute critics of the campaign to collect weapons and legalise vehicles on social networking and electronic sites.

He called on people to hand over weapons at the nearest police station or military unit.

*Janjaweed
Hilal, the most notorious janjaweed leader, belongs to the Arab Mahameed clan in North Darfur. In early 2003, when Darfuri rebels took up arms against the government, he was serving a jail sentence for stirring up ethnic conflicts and mass killings of innocent civilians in the region.

The then Vice-President Ali Osman Taha released Hilal and assigned him as main recruiter of Arab youth in Darfur. Thus he became the head of new groups of loosely organised militiamen, called janjaweed, by their victims, the African population in the marginalised region that mainly consist of farmers. With the full backing of the government, Hilal’s militias targeted unarmed civilians in the region, attacking African Darfuri villages, but they rarely came near forces of the rebel movements.

In 2006, the UN Security Council imposed financial and travel sanctions on the militia leader, who was offered lucrative administrative positions by the government in Khartoum at the time. Mid 2013, however, Hilal returned to North Darfur, where his fighters, including the militiamen of the Border Guards, launched widespread attacks on government forces and allied militias.

Hilal established the RAC in Saraf Omra locality in North Darfur in March 2014. The council was compiled from native administration leaders and militants from various tribes in the area.

In December that year, when he announced his own administration of the Jebel Amer gold mining area in North Darfur, he strongly denounced Khartoum’s policies in Darfur. “In particular, the Arab youth should be aware of this. In reality, they are not waging a jihad and defending the nation as the NCP leaders say. The Sudanese rulers only want to defend their interests, their personal agendas, and their positions,” he said.

According to a UN Security Council report in April this year, Hilal is profiting from vast gold sales in Darfur.


Sudan: Clashes as RSF, Border Guards tensions erupt (Part 15)

  • Starting mid-August 2017, verbal clashes between Hilal and Sudan's Second Vice-President Hassabo Abdelrahman threatened to escalate tensions between Sudan's two paramilitary forces under the command of Hilal and Hemeti in North Darfur.
  • Hilal also strongly opposed the planned integration of the Darfuri Border Guards into the RSF. “I was the one who established and presented the Border Guards initiative to the army in Darfur to defeat the rebellion,” the Mahameed clan chief told Radio Dabanga in August 2017.
  • Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militia chases Ali Rizgallah Safana forces to Kutum.
  • All nine captured men have been transferred to El Fasher, and from there they will be transferred to Khartoum.
  • RSF commander Hemeti told reporters that one of the caught fighters is a deputy of the Safana Border Guards.  Full story - published seven days before Musa Hilal's arrest by Hemeti's RSF:
Article from and by Radio Dabanga.org
Dated 10 November 2017 - KORMA / EL FASHER
Clashes as RSF, Border Guards tensions erupt
Members of the Border Guards militia meet in Mistariha in North Darfur on 12 August 2017 (RAC)

Large clashes took place between two of Sudan's paramilitary forces, the Rapid Support Forces and the Border Guards, near Korma today. Their leaders have not revealed the casualty number.

Eyewitnesses in Korma in North Darfur told Radio Dabanga that fighting broke out in Amar Jadeed, Eshbara, Kela and Niro. They heard explosions and gunfire coming from these areas from morning until after the Friday prayers ended.

The Rapid Support Forces (RSF) spokesman, Col. Abdelrahman El Jaali, confirmed the clash in Korma, which is 12 kilometres west of El Fasher. In a statement to the official Sudanese news agency (Suna) he said that they managed to arrest nine Border Guards members and seized their military equipment.

He said that a number of militiamen were killed when the RSF pursued them up to the outskirts of Kutum. The RSF still give chase to the Border Guards members who managed to flee. “We will work to clean up all Darfur states from the infiltrators, especially those in the cities.”

The Border Guards members in question serve under Lt. Col. Ali Rizgallah (nicknamed Safana), who recently declared a rebellion against Khartoum and defected from Sudan's chain of command. Rizgallah 'Safana' refuses to integrate his forces in the RSF, as part of a currently ongoing disarmament campaign in Darfur.

RSF commander Mohamed Hamdan 'Hemeti' told reporters today that one of the caught fighters is a deputy of the Safana Border Guards. All nine captured men have been transferred to El Fasher, and from there they will be transferred to Khartoum.

Attack in Kutum
On Friday afternoon Rizgallah and his forces came under attack by RSF in Eshbara, on the road between Kutum and Kabkabiya, south of Kutum. He briefly spoke to Radio Dabanga but did not answer questions about the number of casualties.

Meanwhile the spokesman of the Revolutionary Awakening Council, led by former janjaweed leader Musa Hilal, commented that the circumstances of the clash between the RSF and Safana's Border Guards are unknown. “We do not know the extent of the casualties because it occurred in a remote area,” said spokesman Mohamad Abekar.

Starting mid-August, verbal clashes between Hilal and Sudan's Second Vice-President Hassabo Abdelrahman have threatened to escalate tensions between Sudan's two paramilitary forces under the command of Hilal and Hemeti in North Darfur.

Hilal also strongly opposes the planned integration of the Darfuri Border Guards into the RSF. “I was the one who established and presented the Border Guards initiative to the army in Darfur to defeat the rebellion,” the Mahameed clan chief told Radio Dabanga in August.

Defectors
Last week, about 120 defectors from the Ali Rizgallah group of Border Guards which rebel against the government, announced that they will join the RSF. El Haj Ali Widaa led the group to El Fasher.

On paper the Border Guards are under nominal government command and used to be a government militia in Darfur. Its members are affiliated with founder and former janjaweed leader Musa Hilal, backed by Khartoum, until he distanced himself from the government in mid 2013. Hilal holds control of the gold-mining area Jebel Amer and Saraf Omra.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Sudan: Hilal court martial denies defence lawyers entry (Part 14)

NOTE from Sudan Watch Editor: The following article states that a military court in Sudan's capital Khartoum trying Musa Hilal and his followers on Monday 16 Sep prevented four lawyers, assigned by Hilal’s family to defend him, from attending.

The court postponed its hearing until Monday [23 Sep] because of the delay in bringing the defendants to court. One wonders about the reasons for the delay.

Why are medics from a body such as the International Red Cross not visiting the detainees in Omdurman prison to check that they are alive, well and not tortured?  

Why are relatives being denied visitation rights?  Who knows what is going on in the prison?  It seems strange that not more is being made of this important story. 

Article from and by Radio Dabanga.org
Dated: 17 September 2019 - KHARTOUM / EL GENEINA
Khartoum: Hilal Court Martial denies defence lawyers entry
Photo:  The families of detainees, prisoners of war, and members of the Revolutionary Awakening Council led by Musa Hilal staged a vigil in El Geneina, capital of West Darfur, to demand the release of Hilal and his comrades who were arrested two years ago in Darfur. Hilal and his sons and followers are currently facing a court martial in the Sudan capital (Picture: Social Media)

The military court trying the former Janjaweed leader Musa Hilal and his followers on Monday [16 Sep] prevented four lawyers assigned by Hilal’s family to defend him, from attending the session held at the general army command in Khartoum. The court postponed its hearing until Monday.

Lawyer Tarig El Sheikh, member of the defence team, told Radio Dabanga that he and three of his fellow lawyers were assigned by the family of Hilal to join the defence team. He explained that they were prevented from attending the court session yesterday.

El Sheikh said the court did not take any action on Monday and the hearing was adjourned for a week because of the delay in bringing the defendants to court.

The lawyers note that Hilal and others belonging to the Revolutionary Awakening Council are appearing before a special military court “headed by jurists from the era of ousted President Omar Al Bashir”.

The continuation of the court has raised many questions about the legality of bringing civilians to trial in military courts.

The defence has filed an appeal to the Court of Appeal on the illegality of the court and breach of the legal and constitutional rights of the defendants, but the Court of Appeal refused the request.

El Sheikh added that the defence team also submitted a petition to the Constitutional Court on January 6 on the legality and lack of jurisdiction and are awaiting its decision.

Crowds organised on Sunday [17 Sep] in front of the army command, as well as in El Geneina, capital of West Darfur.

The protesters demanded the release of Hilal and his comrades detained since 2017.

The protesters also rejected the trial and said the prosecution of members of the Revolutionary Awakening Council [should have] ended with the fall of the former regime and the formation of the transitional government.

2017 arrest
Hilal was arrested in a raid on his stronghold in Misteriya, North Darfur, in November 2017. His sons, brothers, and entourage were detained as well, in addition to some 2,000 members of his clan.


In July last year, the NISS arrested Hilal’s hearing-impaired son, Ahmed Musa. The next month, several ‘associates of Hilal’ were arrested from a house at Gurrat El Zawiya area in North Darfur.

Atrocities in Darfur
Hilal is held responsible for the atrocities committed in Darfur against civilians after the conflict erupted in 2003. In that year, he was released from prison by the Sudanese government with the purpose to mobilise Darfuri Arab herders to fight the insurgency in the region.

With full government backing, Hilal’s militiamen (janjaweed) targeted villages of African Darfuris. They rarely came near forces of the armed rebel movements.

Sudan: PM orders probe into massacre of protestors

Sudanese Prime Minister orders formation of a committee to probe killing of protesters while their sit-in was being broken.

Article from Anadolu Agency.com
By MOHAMMED AMIN 
Dated Saturday 21 September 2019
Sudan to probe killing of protesters
KHARTOUM, Sudan - Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok on Saturday [21 Sep] has ordered the formation of an independent National Investigation Committee to probe the killing of the protesters in the massacre which took place in front of the army headquarters on June 3, 2019. 

The committee will have seven members to probe the killings, a statement issued by the Sudanese Council of Ministers said.

The investigation committee will include seven members representing the judiciary system, the ministries of justice, defense, interior and other independent lawyers, it added.

Human rights organizations and opposition groups said more than 100 protesters have been killed when the security officers attacked the sit-in of the pro-democracy protesters in front of the army headquarters.

Sudan has remained in turmoil since April 11, when the military establishment announced the “removal” of President Omar al-Bashir after months of popular protests against his 30-year rule.

On Aug. 21, Abdalla Hamdok became the first civilian prime minister of Sudan since 1989, when ousted President Omer al-Bashir toppled Mahdi. 

The country is being ruled under a power-sharing deal between Sudan's Transitional Military Council (TMC) and the opposition Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) coalition.