KHARTOUM (Reuters) - A Khartoum court on Wednesday charged two men including a Sudanese-American with forming a terrorist organisation, in the first trial of people arrested during a spate of anti-government protests that broke out more than a month ago.
Security forces arrested Radwan Daoud, an American citizen whose origins are in Sudan’s western Darfur region, and Ahmed Ali Mahjoub about two weeks ago at a house in a Khartoum suburb.
Authorities said they found political materials calling for demonstrations and regime change in the house.
In the first session of their trial, the two were charged with “forming a terrorist organisation, working to change the regime by force, criminal conspiracy, criminal participation and inciting unrest”, defence lawyer Muatasim Taj El-Ser said.
The crimes carry sentences of up to 10 years in prison, he said.
The judge dismissed charges against 10 other people and ordered their release.
Sudan avoided the wave of popular protests that unseated rulers in neighbouring Libya and Egypt last year, but austerity measures aimed at containing an economic crisis led to small demonstrations calling for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s government to resign.
Activists led by students have sought to use anger over rising food prices to build a broader movement to topple the government.
Sudanese activists estimate as many as 2,000 people have been arrested since the protests broke out in June, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said in a joint report this month.
The crisis is rooted largely in the secession of oil-producing South Sudan a year ago. The new nation took about three-quarters of the country’s crude output, leaving Sudan with a budget gap, high inflation and a depreciating currency.
The two sides are meeting in Addis Ababa to discuss issues including how much the landlocked South should pay to export oil through pipelines and other infrastructure in Sudan - fees which could ease Sudan’s crisis - but have so far failed to agree.
Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Alexander Dziadosz; Editing by Andrew Roche