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Sudan names commission to investigate killings at Khartoum sit-in

Security forces reportedly led by the RSF carried out the killings on 3 June - the new commission has three months to investigate
Doctors linked to the opposition said nearly 130 people were killed in the raid and ensuing violence (AFP)

Sudan's prime minister named a commission on Sunday to investigate a raid on a sit-in in June, in which security forces killed scores of people near the defence ministry in Khartoum. The move follows repeated calls for justice from protest and civilian groups.

The commission will have broad powers to summon witnesses, including officials, and will be given access to official documents, security reports and medical records, according to a report by state news agency SUNA.

The decision was issued late on Sunday, a day before a mass rally planned by the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which spearheaded demonstrations that led to the overthrow of former president Omar al-Bashir in April and continues to call for justice for protesters who were killed or wounded.

The SPA welcomed the appointment of the commission, calling it "the first brick in the structure of a fair investigation and the revelation of the perpetrators of the crime".

The commission will be headed by human rights lawyer Nabil Adib and will include senior security officers as well as other lawyers, the Reuters news agency reported.

Three-month deadline

The sit-in was the culmination of 16 weeks of protests that led to army officers turning against Bashir and replacing him with a military council.

Protesters stayed in the streets calling for civilian rule, until security forces moved to clear the sit-in early on 3 June.

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Witnesses said at the time that the security forces were led by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

Led by Mohamed Hamdan Dagolo, also known as Hemeti, the RSF was formed from the former Janjaweed militias accused of war crimes and genocide in Sudan's Darfur region.

In August, opposition groups and the military signed a three-year power-sharing deal leading to the formation of an 11-member sovereign council and the appointment of a technocratic, transitional government under Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.

The commission will be charged with identifying those responsible for breaking up the sit-in, establishing the number of dead, wounded and missing, and the financial losses incurred by those affected, SUNA reported.

The number of victims has been disputed. Doctors linked to the opposition said nearly 130 people were killed in the raid and ensuing violence. Officials have acknowledged 87 deaths.

The commission is supposed to finish its work in three months, and can be granted one-month extensions provided it submits progress reports.

It can also request technical assistance from the African Union, which has played a prominent role in Sudan's transition.