Sudan executes nine found guilty of editor's murder

KHARTOUM Mon Apr 13, 2009 1:21pm EDT

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KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudanese authorities on Monday executed nine men found guilty in the 2006 murder of a Sudanese newspaper editor, state media and a police source said.

"Nine people guilty in this case were executed today," the source said.

The case has been sensitive for the government, which initially banned reporting of the trial other than by state media. The nine men are from Darfur, a region torn by a conflict between rebels and the government.

The state news agency SUNA later confirmed the men were hanged at Kober prison in Khartoum and named them. A Reuters reporter outside the prison saw groups of relatives and some women wailing.

The decapitated body of the editor, Mohamed Taha Mohamed Ahmed, was found on a dirt road in Khartoum in September 2006. His hands and legs were tied and his head lay next to his body.

In November 2007 the nine men were found guilty of killing Ahmed, a journalist and the owner of the Arabic-language newspaper al-Wifaq.

During the trial the lead police investigator, Abdul Rahim Ahmed Abdul Rahim, said the defendants' motives were "political, ethnic and financial."

Abdul Rahim said the defendants had been infuriated by an article in Ahmed's paper. A defense lawyer said the article played down reports about rape in Darfur and used unflattering language to describe Darfuri women.

Earlier this month local media said a constitutional court had upheld the death sentences, putting an end to the appeal process.

Mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms in Darfur in early 2003, accusing the central government of neglect. International experts say at least 200,000 people have been killed and more than 2.7 million driven from their homes in almost six years of ethnic and politically driven violence in Darfur. Khartoum says 10,000 people have died.

(Reporting by Alastair Sharp and Khalid Abdul Aziz)

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