Family members and friends of late Sudanese school teacher Ahmed al-Khair ululated and cheered Tuesday outside a courtroom in the city of Omdurman as 29 intelligence officers were sentenced to death for the torture and killing of al-Khair in the eastern Sudanese town of Khasum al-Girba.
The 29 defendants had been found guilty of deadly abuse.
The court found that al-Khair was beaten and tortured to death by officers at a detention center after he was arrested in late January. Al-Khair died on Feb. 2, 2019, after spending a week in detention.
Hind Awadassaid of the Sudan Teachers Union called the sentencing a good beginning for citizens demanding justice.
“It is satisfactory to some extent and it is a good point for now immunity for the people who are in charge. So, the people are now equal in front of the law,” Awadassaid told South Sudan in Focus.
Bakhit Mohammed Ahmed, a teacher and colleague of the late al-Khair, traveled from Khasm al-Girba to Khartoum to attend the hearing.
Ahmed said before the sentencing that he did not trust the Sudanese judiciary. He praised the transitional government for making sure justice was carried out.
“Until this morning, I had no trust in the Sudanese judiciary. This has quenched my sorrows for my colleague and turned it into joy,” Ahmed told South Sudan in Focus.
Al-Mughira Massad al-Kitiyabi, a relative of al-Khair, said he was pleased with the verdict.
“This is what we were expecting. The ruling has a healing touch on our wounds and as his family members, we regard the execution as a good point for us, and just on the perpetrators and good for the whole Sudan,” al-Kitiyabi told South Sudan in Focus.
Gasim Hussein, a lawyer representing al-Khair’s family, said the ruling shows the Sudanese judiciary is upholding one of the principles of the Sudanese revolution.
“This is a new beginning of revising, executing a new history for Sudan, which has been produced by the revolution. Our revolution has contributed to this day and our people have been peacefully calling for a just Sudan and reforms within the judiciary system,” Hussein told South Sudan in Focus.
Al-Khair’s killing touched off nationwide protests against then-president Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who was deposed in April.