Sudan court refuses to free opposition detainees

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KHARTOUM, Oct 7 (Reuters) Sudan's Court of Appeal has refused a request to release 25 detained political opposition figures accused of plotting to overthrow the government but not charged yet, the defence team said today.

''The Court of Appeal refused our appeal against the renewal of their detention,'' said Ali Ahmed al-Sayyid, from the defence team of the opposition Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

The 25, including Umma Party for Reform and Renewal leader Mubarak al-Fadil, his secretary-general Abdel Jalil al-Basha, DUP deputy secretary-general Ali Mahmoud Hassanein and retired police, security and army officers were arrested in July.

National security accused them of conspiring to overthrow the government, but no charges have been brought against any of them. Family members say interrogations ended on Aug. 25.

''We will meet today or tomorrow to decide...but we will now go to the Supreme Court,'' said Sayyid.

Sudan's Criminal Procedure Act states a suspect can be detained for a maximum of two weeks for investigation after which they must be released or charged.

Amnesty International said in a statement received by Reuters today that five men who were believed to have been tortured or beaten had received medical treatment and then moved to Kober prison with the other detainees. It said detainee Ahmed Salman had been examined by a specialist.

''His medical certificate recorded a swelling on his left testicle and a cut on his chin, consistent with his account of being kicked between his legs and hit violently on the back while blindfolded so that he hit a wall, causing a 2cm long cut on his chin,'' Amnesty said.

''Abdel Jalil al-Basha described being slapped regularly on his face and back, prolonged standing with arms raised and sleep deprivation; he stated that he had lost his hearing in his right ear,'' it added.

Khartoum has vehemently denied any torture of the detainees, and has said it will take legal action against Amnesty.

Sudan's Justice Minister Mohamed Ali al-Mardi tried to ban reporting of the case but the media has largely ignored the order, saying it lacked legal basis.

Police banned reporters from taking pictures or filming a demonstration by families of the detainees on Thursday.

Yesterday, police detained and questioned Fadil's secretary and head of office for several hours, telling them they would be held personally responsible for further protests.

One family member, who did not want to be named, said Fadil's secretary was told that if it had not been the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, she would have been '' beaten, slapped and had her head in the toilet.'' UN special rapporteur for human rights in Sudan, Sima Samar, expressed concern over the detentions, and urged the government to work with more transparency on the matter.

Sudan is due to hold its first democratic elections in more than two decades by the end of 2009.

REUTERS JK RK1620

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