Sudan began the trial on Wednesday of 41 security agents accused of involvement in the death of a teacher held in custody, a lawyer said.Ahmed al-Kheir, 36, died in prison after his arrest in January by members of the feared National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), used by now-ousted veteran leader Omar al-Bashir to crush dissent.

Kheir was detained in his village of Khashm el-Girba, in the eastern province of Kassala, on allegations of organising anti-Bashir protests.

Days after his arrest, Kheir’s family was told to collect his body from a local mortuary.

His death fuelled protests against Bashir who was toppled in April after months of mass rallies against his iron-fisted rule.

“Trial proceedings for the 41 NISS agents started,” said lawyer Adel Abdelghani, adding that the case involves officers and other ranks.

“They are accused of subjecting the deceased Ahmed al-Kheir to torture which led to his death,” he said.

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The next trial will be held on September 3, according to an AFP correspondent who attended the session.

Under Bashir, the NISS oversaw repeated crackdowns on government opponents and the media, and launched a severe crackdown on the countrywide protests that erupted in December.

In July, the agency was renamed the General Intelligence Services.

Sudan has since embarked on a transition to civilian rule following a deal signed this month between protest leaders and the generals who seized power after Bashir’s ouster.

On August 21, the country swore in a joint civilian-military ruling body and a prime minister as part of the roadmap to guide the country through a three-year transitional period.

Bashir himself is now jailed at the maximum-security Kober prison in Khartoum, where thousands of political prisoners were held during his 30-years in power.

The former president is being tried over a raft of corruption charges.



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