Sudan jails Darfur attackers

A Sudanese court has sentenced 10 men to six years in jail and ordered each to have a hand and foot amputated for attacking and robbing villagers in western Darfur.

    Darfur's troubles stem from tensions between nomads and farmers

    The special court, which handed down the ruling on Sunday, was

    set up by the Sudanese government

    to end atrocities in the region.

    Sudanese officials 

    did not identify the men and it is not clear when proceedings against

    them began, but they said they were convicted of armed

    attacks, robbery and illegal possession of arms.

    It is not clear when the sentences will be carried out.

    Under Islamic laws followed by the Sudanese government, a recurrent thief

    is punished by cutting off the left hand and the right foot.

    If the thief

    steals again, the remaining right hand and the left foot are amputated.

    Humanitarian crisis

    The Sudanese government, under international pressure to end atrocities by

    militias known as the Janjawid, is using

    the court to show it is fulfilling its pledge to bring law and order to the

    area.

    The government has denied it backs the militias with helicopter gunships

    and vehicles in a campaign that has been equated with ethnic cleansing.

    Sudan president Umar al-Bashir
    denies he backs the Janjawid

    Darfur's

    troubles stem from long-standing tensions between nomadic tribes and

    their farming neighbours over dwindling water and agricultural land.

    Those tensions exploded into violence in February 2003, when two

    rebel groups took up arms over what they regarded as unjust treatment by the

    government in the land dispute.

    Amnesty report

    News of the sentences came as a human rights group accused the Janjawid of

    gang-raping and abducting girls as young as eight and women as

    old as 80, systematically killing, torturing, or using them as

    sex slaves.

    In a report called "Rape as a Weapon of War", Amnesty International 

    outlined sexual violence against women it says is happening on a

    massive scale.

    "Soldiers of the Sudan government army are present during

    attacks by the Janjaweed and when rapes are committed, but the

    Sudan government has done nothing so far to stop them"

    Benedicte Goderiaux,
    Amnesty International

    It says Khartoum is actively violating its legal

    obligations to protect civilians.

    "Soldiers of the Sudan government army are present during

    attacks by the Janjaweed and when rapes are committed, but the

    Sudan government has done nothing so far to stop them," Amnesty

    researcher Benedicte Goderiaux said.

    The Sudan embassy in Beirut said in a statement the

    Amnesty report was aimed at defaming the government, distorting

    Arab culture and driving a wedge between Sudan's ethnic groups.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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