Sudan court sentences officer to death for killing protester


 A Sudanese court sentenced to death on Monday a paramilitary officer charged with killing a demonstrator during a deadly breakup of a protest camp in the capital, Khartoum, two years ago.

The court ruled that the officer, Youssef Mohieldin al-Fiky, a major with the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, rammed a protester with his car as security forces were dispersing a sit-in outside the military headquarters in June 2019.

The protester, Hanafy Abdel-Shakour, was one of over 120 people killed during the brutal crackdown on demonstrators in Khartoum and elsewhere in Sudan that June. It followed two months after the military ousted then-President Omar al-Bashir amid a public uprising against his nearly three-decade autocratic rule.

Al-Fiky rammed his car into 22-year-old Abdel-Shakour, in Omdurman, a city adjacent to Khartoum, according to the state-run SUNA news agency. The report said the trial had started more than a year later, in July 2020, in Khartoum’s Judicial and Legal Science Institute. Judges held 26 hearings before their ruling on Monday. The verdict can be appealed before a higher court.

According to videos distributed on social media, dozens of people outside the courthouse cheered the court ruling. Abdel-Shakour’s family were also seen hugging each other and praying.

Since al-Bashir’s ouster, Sudan has since been on a fragile path to democracy and is ruled by a joint military-civilian government.

Monday’s ruling was the first of its kind. The 2019 breakup of the sit-in camp was a turning point in what had until then been relations between the military and the protesters.

Protesters had called for an international probe into the breakup, but an African Union-brokered agreement in August 2019 between the generals and the protesters said a local commission would investigate. The panel, however, repeatedly missed its deadlines for reporting, angering the victims’ families and protest groups.

Protesters accused the paramilitary force of leading the crackdown. The force grew out of the notorious janjaweed militias implicated in the Darfur conflict and is now part of the military.

A military-backed prosecutor said in 2019 that eight officers, including a major general, were charged with crimes against humanity in the crackdown. But there has been no word since of any being tried or detained.