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Sudan student condemned to hang for killing of policeman

Khartoum, Sudan | AFP | A court in Sudan on Sunday sentenced a university student to death after convicting him of killing a policeman during protests in the capital last year, a defence lawyer said.

Asim Omer, who was studying at Khartoum University, was arrested in December 2016 and charged with killing the policeman after hundreds of students clashed with security forces at the campus on the banks of the Blue Nile in April of that year.

Last month, the court found Omer guilty, and on Sunday sentenced him to be hanged.

“The judge sentenced Asim Omer to be hanged to death after finding him guilty of killing a policeman,” defence lawyer Mohamed Arabi told AFP, adding that he would appeal.

After sentencing, during which AFP was unable to gain access to the courtroom, police fired tear gas to disperse a protest by students gathered outside the court.

The protests relocated to areas in and around Khartoum University, with those demonstrations also dispersed by the same means.

The opposition Popular Congress Party, of which Omer is a member, rejected the court’s ruling.

“The sentencing of Asim Omer is illegal because the judge didn’t have full evidence to convict him,” the party said in a statement.

“We will continue our fight in the higher court and all alternatives are open to us to save his life.”

Students at Khartoum University demonstrated several times last year against an alleged plan to sell off buildings belonging to the institution.

The government denied the charge, and police often resorted to firing tear gas.

Sunday’s ruling “definitely affects the image of the country and the image of the judiciary”, said prominent human rights activist Mudawi Ibrahim Adam.

In late 2016, sporadic anti-government rallies were staged in Khartoum after the government raised fuel prices.

The demonstrations were swiftly broken up by security forces, and dozens of opposition leaders and activists like Ibrahim Adam were arrested.

Adam was released last month under a presidential pardon.

The bloodiest crackdown on protesters came in September 2013, when dozens of demonstrators were killed during anti-austerity rallies.

Thousands of people took to the streets of Khartoum and other regions calling for the downfall of President Omar al-Bashir’s regime, also after fuel subsidies were slashed.

Amnesty International said at the time that about 200 people were killed, hundreds wounded and more than 800 arrested. The government gave a toll of less than 100 dead.

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