A Sudanese court on Monday sentenced 27 intelligence agents to death for killing a teacher in detention in February during protests against Sudan’s longtime former leader, Omar al-Bashir, reported Reuters.
The court’s verdict was the first connected to the killing of protesters in the months before and after Bashir was ousted in April. Bashir was eventually overthrown by the military, 30 years after he took power in a coup.
Ahmad al-Khair died in custody after he was arrested arrest for taking part in protests. He was detained on January 31 and was reported dead two days later. The 36-year-old teacher’s death in the eastern town of Khashm al-Qirba became a rallying point during 16 weeks of protests against Bashir’s rule.
Judge Sadok Abdelrahman said the defendants were found guilty of deadly abuse against al-Khair at an intelligence services facility and sentenced to be hanged. Four other officers were sentenced to three years in prison and seven were acquitted in the ruling.
According to Al-Khair’s family, the security officials initially said he had died of poisoning, but days later a state investigation found that he had died of injuries from beating.
A huge crowd rallied outside the court in Omdurman where the verdict was delivered on Monday. Some of them were seen waving national flags or holding pictures of Khair.
The Sudanese Professionals Association, an umbrella group of unions that led the protests, welcomed the court’s verdict. The group said it will continue pursuing and bringing to justice security officials accused of torture.
Mohamed al-Faki Suleiman, a member of the Sudan Sovereign Council, said the verdict has renewed the Sudanese people’s trust in the country’s judicial institutions.
According to rights group Amnesty International, at least 177 people were killed during the months-long protests, while a doctors’ committee close to the protest movement put the toll at over 250.