For their part in an attack on Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, in May, that killed more than 200 people and wounded hundreds more, eight men have been sentenced to death.
It is the first decision by courts set up to try members of the Justice and Equality Movement (Jem) captured during the attack, which marked the first time that decades of regional conflict had reached the capital.
“I find you guilty under the Sudanese counter-terrorism law, chapter five and six, and Sudanese criminal law, chapter 130”, Judge Muntasim Mohamed Saleh told the men on Tuesday.
“I sentence you to be hanged to death.”
A ninth man was acquitted said Muez Hadra, a lawyer from a joint defence team, and three other trials are continuing, including one trying Abdel Aziz el-Nur Ashr, a senior Jem commander.
Under Sudanese law, any death sentence must be ratified by both an appeals’ court and the country’s highest court. Then, all death warrants must be signed and approved by the country’s president, Omar al-Bashir.
Last week, 89 juveniles arrested by the Sudanese authorities following the attack, have been granted amnesty by president Bashir.
In order to try dozens of suspects rounded up in a security clampdown following the attack, special courts have been set up in Khartoum, Khartoum North and Omdurman, that was the target of the Jem raid.
The courts are unconstitutional have argued defence lawyers, saying that they do not guarantee their client’s rights.
The cases started on June 18 when Sudan put an initial 39 suspects on trial.
Accused of allegedly ordering his forces to annihilate three non-Arab groups in Darfur, masterminding murder, torture, pillaging and using rape to commit genocide, Omar al-Bashir’s arrest has been demanded by the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor.
The Masalit, Fur and Zaghawa, which is the tribe from which the majority of Jem members hail, are included in those three groups.
Up to 300 000 people have died and more than 2.2 million have fled their homes since the conflict started in February 2003, according to the UN. Sudan says 10,000 people have been killed.
It is when African ethnic minority fighters took up arms against the Arab-dominated Khartoum government and state-backed militias, fighting for resources and power in one of the most deprived regions on earth, that the war began.