Students at the University of El Geneina, West Darfur (Albert González Farran/Unamid)
El Doroshab Criminal Court on Wednesday dropped the charges filed by the security apparatus against 56 Darfuri students of the University of Bahri in December.
Defence lawyer Tajeldin Siddig of the Darfur Bar Association (DBA) told Dabanga that the North Khartoum court acquitted the 56 students, because of a lack of evidence.
Following raids by police and security agents of the Kadaro compound of the University of Bahri in Khartoum North in December, numerous students were detained at the campus, and inside their homes, and charged with disturbing the public order and jeopardising public safety.
The DBA said in a statement, issued on Wednesday, that the Prosecution Office had forsaken its professional responsibility by starting criminal procedures without having any evidence. “Many students were held inside their rented houses, or homes of their relatives in different areas of the capital, for reasons not related to the complaints.”
The Darfur lawyers, however, praised the plaintiffs for “being highly ethical and responsible at the court, as they acknowledged to the judge that they were asked to file complaints against the students without knowledge about the alleged crimes”.
According to the statement, “the weakness of the prosecutors and their unprofessional behaviour encouraged the security apparatus to take advantage of the Criminal Act against the Darfuri students at the University of Bahri”.
On 22 December, a large force of policemen and security agents raided the Kadaro compound of the Bahri University, and violently broke up a political meeting, organised by the Darfur Students Association. A number of students were injured, and dozens were detained. The forces also searched houses in the neighbourhood rented to Darfuri students.
The Darfur Students Association had organised the meeting to discuss the eviction of at least 48 Darfuri students for not paying tuition fees, and the university administration’s ban on wearing African dress and a particular style of haircut.
On 25 December, the forces stormed the campus again, this time supported by militant student members of the ruling National Congress Party. Again a number of Darfuri students were beaten and detained.
“Many of the detained students did not participate in any activity that would justify prosecution on criminal charges,” the DBA stated on 28 December. “They were ordinary students, who happened to be present at the University campus at the time of the raids.”
On 30 December, El Doroshab Criminal Court acquitted ten students. They were detained inside their house at about 11 am on 22 December, while they were having breakfast.