İrem UZUN -TDO- A court in Sudan on Monday sentenced 27 members of the country's security forces to death for torturing and killing a detained protester during the uprising against Sudan's longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir earlier this year. The death of protester Ahmed al-Kheir, a school teacher and while in detention in February was a crucial point in the uprising that eventually led to the military's ouster of al-Bashir.

The teacher was beaten and tortured to death after he was arrested in late January by intelligence operatives in Sudan's eastern province of Kassala. Al-Kheir's family said security officials initially claimed he had died of poisoning, though days later a state investigation found he had died of injuries from beating. The defendants were found guilty of deadly abuse against Ahmed al-Kheir at an intelligence services facility and sentenced to be hanged, judge Sadok Abdelrahman said. Another four officers were sentenced to three years in prison and seven were acquitted in the landmark ruling, which paves the way for democratic transition in the North African nation. Hundreds rallied outside the Omdurman court where the verdict was delivered. Some waved national flags and others held pictures of al-Kheir and cheered after the decision was announced.

The case marks the first time courts have handed down convictions over crackdowns on demonstrations in the months before and after al-Bashir was toppled in April. The Sudanese Professionals Association, an umbrella group of unions that led the protests, welcomed the verdict. Mohamed al-Faki Suleiman, a member of the Sudan Sovereign Council, said the verdict "renews the Sudanese people's trust in their judicial institutions".

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