08/27/11 | Bloomberg
A Sudanese court sentenced to death by hanging a leader in the rebel Justice and Equality Movement, which carried out attacks against the army in Southern Kordofan, state-run SUNA news agency reported late yesterday.
The ruling against Al-Tom Hamed was issued by a court in Kadugli, the capital of Southern Kordofan state for “undermining the constitutional order, stirring up war against the state and wearing the military uniform”, SUNA said.
Hamed was captured by the Sudanese army when JEM, the biggest rebel group in Sudan’s western region of Darfur, carried out joint military operations in July for the first time with rebels from the northern branch of South Sudan’s ruling party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, against the Sudanese army. Southern Kordofan borders the war-torn region of Darfur.
Fighting broke out in Southern Kordofan a month before South Sudan’s July 9 independence from Sudan, a move that capped the 2005 peace agreement that ended a two-decade civil war between north and south Sudan. Southern Kordofan is Sudan’s only oil-producing state, accounting for 115,000 barrels a day, according to Sudan’s minister of state for oil, Ali Ahmed Osman.
The Khartoum-based agency said al-Tom admitted receiving “financial and logistic support from the government of South Sudan,” which also helped him enter Southern Kordofan through the newly independent region.
”We are sad that the Sudanese government reaches this level,” El Taher El Feki, chairman of JEM’s legislative council, said in a telephone interview from a West African country he didn’t want to identify. ”Brother Hamed is a prisoner of war, and the government will be committing another war crime if they implement that ruling.”
JEM and the SPLM’s northern branch had urged the Sudanese government to treat three rebel commanders who were captured in that assault, including Hamed, as prisoners of war, the groups said in a July 20 statement on JEM’s website.
Following the operation, the two groups pledged to ”continue to defend the innocent people” in Southern Kordofan ”against the genocide regime in Khartoum,” according to the July 20 statement.
A wider war may erupt in Sudan if clashes in Southern Kordofan aren’t resolved, and it would be “coordinated” against the Sudanese army, Malik Agar, governor of Sudan’s border Blue Nile state and the head of the northern branch of South Sudan’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, said on July 3.
The war could spread from Blue Nile state on the Ethiopian border in the east to Darfur in the west, Agar said.
The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights called in an Aug. 15 report for an investigation into possible crimes against humanity and war crimes, allegedly committed mainly by government forces, during clashes in the state with insurgents from the SPLM’s northern branch.
Both Sudanese President Umar al-Bashir and his governor in Southern Kordofan, Ahmed Haroun, are wanted by the International Criminal Court over allegations they were involved in war crimes in the western region of Darfur, where insurgents took arms against the government in 2003.
Clashes and airstrikes by the Sudanese army in Southern Kordofan forced more than 73,000 people to flee their homes, according to the UN.