Sudan rebel leaders, 15 others, condemned to death: lawyer

CAIRO Thu Mar 13, 2014 1:33pm EDT

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CAIRO (Reuters) - Two Sudanese rebel leaders and former senior political figures were sentenced to death in absentia on Thursday with 15 other people, a defense lawyer said, a move that will raise the stakes in fighting in remote southern regions.

Malik Agar, the head of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement - North (SPLM-N), and the group's Secretary General, Yassir Arman, were both condemned, lawyer Altujani Hassan told Reuters.

Agar was once the governor of Sudan's Blue Nile state, bordering South Sudan, and Arman stood against Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir in 2010 elections.

SPLM-N - particularly active in regions bordering South Sudan - has joined an umbrella group of rebels who say they are bent on bringing in democratic reforms and toppling Bashir. Khartoum has branded it a "terrorist" organization.

(Reporting by Khaled Abdelaziz, writing by Asma Alsharif; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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