The Sudanese government executed nine people who may have been innocent on Monday. The nine men were convicted of murder, but their confessions were extracted under torture.
Amnesty International has called on the Sudanese authorities to abolish the death penalty immediately. The organization opposes the death penalty unconditionally in all situations as a violation of the right to life and the ultimate cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.
"This case is a tragic example of what happens when an irreversible punishment such as the death penalty is applied," said Tawanda Hondora, Deputy Director of the Amnesty International's Africa Programme. "The execution of the nine men is outrageous. They were arbitrarily arrested, tortured and then subjected to an unfair trial."
The nine men executed were Ishaq Mohammed Sanousi (thought to have been 71 years old), Abdel Hay Omar, Mustafa Adam, Mohammed Birgid,Hassan Adam Fadel, Adam Ibrahim, Jamaleddin Isa, Abdel Magid Ali Abdel Magid and Sabir Hassan. They were found guilty of the murder of newspaper editor Mohamed Taha in September 2006.
All those executed on Monday had said that they had been tortured to confess to the murder and been forced to sign confessions, which were later produced in court. All 10 people retracted their confessions in court, but the Appeal Court accepted the confessions as evidence against them to issue them with the death penalty.
Defence lawyers asked for medical examinations into their torture, but these were refused, even though many of those arrested carried marks of torture on their bodies.
Amnesty International is concerned that the use of torture to extract confessions is built into the Sudanese system of justice by Article 10(i) of the Law of Evidence of 1993, which states that "… evidence is not dismissed solely because it has been obtained through an improper procedure, if the court is satisfied that it is independent and admissible".
The nine men and another person, Al Taieb Abdelaziz Ishag, who was believed to have been under 16 at the time of the crime, were originally sentenced to death in November 2007. On 26 August 2008, the Supreme Court had upheld the death sentence for nine of the ten defendants and amended the charges against Al Taieb Abdelaziz Ishag from murder to harbouring offenders.