Sudan charges 35 with vandalism after anti-government riots

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A Sudanese court accused a group of 35 people with vandalism on Thursday, during a week of deadly anti-government riots.

The 35 detainees appeared before a judge in Khartoum's relativley poor Haj Youssef district, defense lawyer Mutassim al-Haj told Reuters. Among the defendants were five people from South Sudan, three women and eight teenagers, he said.

“None of them was actually arrested during the demonstrations but only on the following day,” Haj added.

They are charged with destruction and creating a disturbance, offences which he said could earn them between three and seven years in prison if convicted.

The judge offered to release the group on a bail of 20,000 Sudanese pounds ($2,500) but they could not raise the funds, he said.

Sudanese authorities have said they arrested 700 people during the worst unrest in central Sudan in years, triggered by cuts to subsidies on cooking oil and fuel that doubled pump prices overnight.

Rights groups and some diplomats said up to 150 people died when security services opened fire on crowds last week. The government put the death toll at 34 and denied shooting any protesters which it dismissed as “vandals.”

Around 45 women gathered in front of the security headquarters in the capital on Thursday to demand the release of all prisoners, a witness told Reuters.

Meanwhile, more anti-government protests are expected to take place on Friday in major Sudanese cites.

Several calls on social media websites urged citizens to participate in a protest dubbed the “Friday of Freedom,” Al Arabiya reported.

The government cut subsidies to ease a financial crunch aggravated by the secession of oil-producing South Sudan in 2011.

The South’s departure deprived Khartoum of three-quarters of the crude output it relied on for state revenues and foreign currency needed to import food.

The recent protests were much larger than demonstrations last year.

(With Reuters and AFP)

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