Nigeria convicts 205 Boko Haram suspects in mass trials

ABUJA, Feb 19 (Reuters) - More than 200 people have been convicted in Nigeria on charges related to their involvement with militant Islamist group Boko Haram, the justice ministry said on Monday.

The convictions of 205 people in mass trials mark the conclusion of the second stage of the country's biggest legal challenge to Boko Haram, which began an insurgency in 2009 aimed at creating an Islamic state in northeastern Nigeria.

"Most of them were convicted for professing to belong to the terrorist group, (or) concealing information about the group which they knew or believe to be of material assistance that could lead to the arrest, prosecution or conviction of Boko Haram members," the justice ministry said in a statement.

Jail terms ranged from three to 60 years, said the ministry.

It also said a total of 526 people allegedly affiliated with Boko Haram had been released for rehabilitation during the second stage, and said 73 cases had been adjourned.

More than 20,000 people have been killed and two million forced to flee their homes since the insurgency began.

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Chibok girls released by Boko Haram in Nigeria
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Chibok girls released by Boko Haram in Nigeria
A still image taken from video shows a girl sitting with her arm in a sling as a group of girls, released by Boko Haram jihadists after kidnapping them in 2014 in the north Nigerian town of Chibok, are welcomed by officials in Abuja, Nigeria, May 7, 2017. REUTERS/via Reuters TV
A still image taken from video shows a group of girls, released by Boko Haram jihadists after kidnapping them in 2014 in the north Nigerian town of Chibok, sitting in a hall as they are welcomed by officials in Abuja, Nigeria, May 7, 2017. REUTERS/via Reuters TV
Two buses carrying the newly released chibok girls turn under the bridge at the airport junction in Abuja, Nigeria May 7, 2017. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde.?
One of the buses carrying the newly released chibok girls leaves the Nnamdi Azikwe international airport in Abuja, Nigeria May 7, 2017. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde
Police disrupt a rally by the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, which is protesting in Nigeria's capital Abuja to mark 1,000 days since over 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped from their secondary school in Chibok by Islamist sect Boko Haram, Nigeria January 8, 2017. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde
Police disrupt a rally by the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, which is protesting in Nigeria's capital Abuja to mark 1,000 days since over 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped from their secondary school in Chibok by Islamist sect Boko Haram, Nigeria January 8, 2017. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde
Members of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign rally in Nigeria's capital Abuja to mark 1,000 days since over 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped from their secondary school in Chibok by Islamist sect Boko Haram, Nigeria January 8, 2017. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde
The mother of one of the 21 Chibok school girls released by Boko Haram is seen during the girls' visit to meet President Muhammadu Buhari In Abuja, Nigeria October 19, 2016. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde
A parent of one of the abducted Chibok school girls cries after the police prevented the parents access to see President Muhammadu Buhari during a rally in Abuja, Nigeria August 25, 2016. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde
The mother of one of the 21 Chibok school girls released by Boko Haram is seen during the girls' visit to meet President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, Nigeria October 19, 2016 REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde
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Humanitarian groups have criticized the Nigerian authorities' handling of some of those detained for infringing on the suspects' rights.

Some whose cases were heard last week at a detention center in central Nigeria had been held without trial since 2010, according to the justice ministry, which added that some had been released for lack of evidence against them.

In October, the ministry said 45 people suspected of Boko Haram links had been convicted and jailed. A further 468 suspects were discharged and 28 suspects were remanded for trial in Abuja or Minna.

(Reporting by Camillus Eboh; Writing by Paul Carsten; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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