Sudan must probe detainee torture claims-lawyers

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KHARTOUM, Sep 19 (Reuters) Lawyers for 25 people accused of plotting to overthrow the Sudanese government urged the authorities today to investigate complaints that several of their clients were tortured by security forces.

''The minister of justice should form a committee to investigate these claims rather than just deny them,'' Nabil Adib, a member of the defence team, told a news conference.

Defence lawyers produced handwritten affidavits signed by the suspects attesting to torture by security personnel.

Mahdi Bakheit, who represents the detained leader of the Umma Party for Reform and Renewal, Mubarak al-Fadil, said: ''The suspects told us they were tortured.'' The government has denied the torture allegations.

Justice Minister Ali al-Mardi has vowed legal action against rights group Amnesty International and accused it of spreading lies over reports that eight of the suspects were beaten, suspended by their wrists and tortured in a Khartoum prison.

Yesterday, Mardi said he had thrown out four appeals by defence lawyers urging the release of the suspects because the defence had failed to follow proper procedures.

Lawyers said Mardi was referring to three petitions from the accused and a defence complaint. These accused a justice ministry committee set up to investigate the allegations of coup-plotting as biased and demanded it be replaced.

Bakheit said the committee had allowed suspects to be brought in for questioning blindfolded, and said suspects had reported being beaten in front of the committee head, who did not intervene. He said the committee had also obstructed the access of lawyers and family members to the accused.

None of the men, who also include the secretary-general of Fadil's party and the deputy head of the large opposition Democratic Unionist Party, has been formally charged.

REUTERS GL RK2330

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