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Sudan sentences six paramilitary officers to death over killing of protesters

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A Sudanese court on Thursday pronounced the death sentence on six officers in the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces for the 2019 killing of six students who were protesting economic hardship as civilians negotiated power-sharing with the military.

The prosecution of personnel from the RSF – which was ordered by the deputy head of Sudan’s transitional governing body – over these killings and others alleged was seen as a test of the government’s commitment to democratisation after decades of autocratic Islamist rule.

According to a statement issued by the RSF after the court’s ruling, the defendants broke RSF law and behaved individually, adding “their actions have no relation to the forces they were part of.”

It was not immediately known whether the six would appeal against the verdict.

The teenage victims were part of a student protest following the June 3, 2019 killing of dozens of protesters demanding a faster transition to civilian, democratic government after an uprising that toppled veteran President Omar al-Bashir, according to a report by Reuters.

Members of the RSF, which emerged out of the Janjaweed militias loyal to Bashir that was accused of atrocities during the Darfur conflict in the early 2000s, were widely blamed for the post-uprising bloodshed.

In May, another RSF member was convicted and sentenced to death for running over a protester soon after the June attack.

READ ALSO: 50 bodies found floating in rivers between Ethiopia’s Tigray region and Sudan

The Elobeid court acquitted two other RSF officers, ruling that they had not carried weapons and tried to prevent the fatal shootings of protesters.

One of the nine RSF personnel originally accused in the case was found guilty but referred to a minors court for sentencing as he was underage at the time of the crime, the court said.

At the time of the mid-2019 unrest, military commanders accused protesters of having been infiltrated by militants and that they had attacked markets and banks.

Protest leaders said the demonstrators were peaceful and accused soldiers of shooting “indiscriminately.”

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