KHARTOUM — A Sudanese court on Monday sentenced seven members of a Darfur rebel group to death by hanging for ambushing a convoy last year and killing more than 50 soldiers escorting it, state media reported.
"The special court for crimes in Darfur... during the morning session today at its headquarters in El-Fasher, the capital of North Darfur, sentenced to death by hanging seven members of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM)," the official SUNA news agency reported.
Of the 10 defendants on trial, three were spared the death penalty and placed in custody, being below the age of criminal responsibility.
The January 2010 attack targeted a convoy travelling from Khartoum to Nyala in South Darfur, in which the JEM rebels killed the convoy commander and 53 soldiers and stole fuel trucks and food supplies, according to the report.
Those convicted have appealed the ruling, which must be approved by the high court in Khartoum.
The rebel group strongly denounced the sentence, saying the trial violated international conventions, and urged human rights organisations to intervene.
"We call on human rights organisations to intervene urgently to save the lives of the prisoners from the judgments of the genocidal regime," JEM said in a statement.
At least 300,000 people have been killed since the Darfur conflict first erupted between non-Arab rebels and the Arab-dominated Khartoum regime, according to the United Nations, and 1.9 million people remain displaced.
The government puts the death toll at 10,000 and blames the continuing lack of security on tribal conflict, minority armed forces and banditry.
JEM is the most heavily armed Darfur rebel group, and its leader, Khalil Ibrahim, said last month after returning to the region from exile in Libya that his men were working with other armed groups to topple the Sudanese regime.
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