Islamist military men on trial for Sudan plot: Lawyer

AFP , Sunday 17 Mar 2013

A group of Islamist military officers in Sudan are facing trial on charges of plotting against the regime

A military trial has begun in Sudan for hardcore Islamist officers who allegedly plotted to destabilise the regime late last year, a lawyer said on Sunday.

The government announced in November the arrest of 13 people, including high-profile members of the security forces and a former intelligence chief, for targeting "the stability of the state and some leaders of the state".

"The military court began on Thursday and today (Sunday) was the second hearing. They are charged under Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) law and the court was headed by SAF generals," said Hashiem Al-Jali.

He could not provide further details but said he is representing one of his relatives, Brigadier Mohammed Ibrahim.

Ibrahim is the most prominent accused soldier and played a role in the 1989 coup which brought the current regime of President Omar al-Bashir to power.

It was not clear exactly how many officers are on trial.

The plot allegations highlighted turmoil within Bashir's Islamist regime, analysts said at the time.

Most of the detained military men are close to a vocal group of ex-civil war volunteer mujahedeen fighters and an elite group within them called Al-Saeohoon or "tourists for the sake of God".

The war veterans, along with a youth movement within the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), have called for new national leadership and a return to Islamic values because they said the government is tainted by corruption and other problems.

The alleged plotters were detained without any shots being fired and government officials have released only vague details about the incident.

"The case is not very clear" and the evidence is scant, said a regional political expert who expects the case to last all year.

If convicted, the accused are not likely to face the firing squad, he said, because the government is "scared of Saeohoon."

Authorities also detained Salah Gosh, who served as national intelligence chief until 2009. As he is not a military officer his case will be heard later.

Gosh's brother told AFP he had no information about the trials.

Sudan has experienced at least seven coups or attempted coups in its 56-year history.

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