SUDAN: Special court in Darfur upholds verdict sentencing seven to death and crucifixion

[29 November 2011] - On 28 November 2011, Judge Altyeb Alamin Elbashir of the Special Criminal Court in North Darfur sentenced seven individuals to death and ordered them crucified following their execution. The purpose of crucifixion is to draw attention to their crimes. The group, affiliated with the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), was on trial for a carjacking committed on 3 May 2010. Three other defendants were sentenced to varying amounts of time in prison. The group was originally found guilty by the South Darfur Special Criminal Court and sentenced to death on 21 October 2010. However, the Supreme Court of Khartoum ordered a retrial due to the inclusion of minors in the sentencing and trial. The application of capital punishment to minors and trial of minors with adults is illegal under Sudan’s international obligations. Below is a list of the defendants sentenced to death and crucifixion:

Aboalgasim Abdalla Abubakar, Mohamed Adam Eisa, Adam Altoum Adam, Alsadig Abakar Yahya and Abdarazig Daoud Abdelseed, age 15 at the time of the carjacking; Ibrahim Shrief Yousef, age 17 at the time of the carjacking; Hassan Eshag Abdalla Minors Idris Adam Abakar and Abdalla Abdalla Doud were sentenced to two years of imprisonment. Altyeb Mohamed Yagoup, also a minor, was sentenced to two years in reform prison. In the original case, despite giving their actual ages, they were tried as adults. This was in violation of the Child Law of 2004, which established special courts and juvenile detention centers, and Article 34 of the Interim National Constitution, which provides the right to a fair trial.

The defendants were charged under Articles 5 and 10 of the 2005 Terrorism Act as well as Articles 139 (armed robbery), 182 (criminal damage), and 168 (armed robbery) of the Sudanese Criminal Act. These charges respectively call for maximum sentences of the death penalty, ten years of imprisonment, three years of imprisonment, five years of imprisonment, and death and crucifixion. The application of the death penalty to a child is forbidden by Article 37 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Sudan is a state party. Nonetheless, domestic law in Sudan continues to make provisions for the application of capital punishment for children in cases of “serious offences,” namely hudud crimes. Under the 1991 Sudanese Penal Code, certain hudud offenses, including armed robbery, are capital crimes. 

In violation of the Supreme Court ruling, the retrial was held in the North Darfur Special Criminal Court, instead of the South Darfur Court. The defendants were held in Shalla Prison, despite orders that they be held in Nyala Prison. Their location inhibited defence lawyers from meeting with their clients, families from visiting and hindered the ability of witnesses to attend the hearings. Despite requests that the case be sent back to South Darfur, the presiding judge refused.

This case is an example of the National Congress Party’s strategy of using the law to oppress its citizens rather than protect them. The case was tried not in the Special Courts, which were created following the opening of the International Criminal Court’s investigation into Darfur, but by special local courts that were created in 1997 to specifically prosecute cases of armed robbery and hijackings. These courts receive considerably less judicial oversight and monitoring than the more recently created Special Courts. Given the defendants’ affiliation with JEM, the judge’s verdict can be seen as an attempt to suppress ethnic minorities and individuals who are viewed as a potential security threat to the state.

The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) condemns the use of the death penalty in all cases and calls for the Ministry of Justice to review the case.

Contact: Osman Hummaida, Executive Director of the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS)

Phone: +44 7956095738 E-mail: [email protected]


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