11 February 2013

Sudan: U.S. Condemns Presidential Pardon of a Man Who Aided Escape of USAID Employee Assassins

Khartoum — The United States embassy in Khartoum issued a statement condemning a pardon issued by president Omer Hassan al-Bashir to a man who was convicted as an accomplice in the escape of four men who were sentenced to death over the killing of a U.S. diplomat and his driver five years.

Mubarak Mustafa was released this month as a result of the amnesty, his lawyer Abu Bakr Abdel-Razik told local media last week. The Sudanese presidency has maintained silence over the issue.

"The pardoning of Mustafa runs counter to previous assurances by the Government of Sudan to hold accountable all those involved in the murder of Granville and Rahma or those responsible in any way," the statement by the U.S. embassy said.

"In the interest of justice, we urge the Government of Sudan to immediately rescind the pardon and return Mustafa to prison to serve out his term. Failure to retract this pardon is contrary to the commitment of both the United States and Sudan to combat terrorism and hold accountable those responsible for terrorist acts".

John Granville, of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and his driver, Abdurrahman Abbas Rahma on 2008 New Years Eve came under a hail of bullet before dawn on 2008 New Year's Day in a rare crime of its kind in Sudan directed at foreigners.

Sudanese authorities eventually managed to capture five men, believed to be belonging to the Islamic militant group Ansar al-Tawhid, and charged them with the killing of Granville and his driver.

Four of them were sentenced to death by hanging in 2009 but a year later they managed to escape the death row from maximum-security Kober prison in the Sudanese capital.

The warden of Kober prison was suspended from duty over the incident but was later reinstated after being cleared from negligence.

One of them was recaptured while another was reportedly killed in Somalia. The other two remain at large and the U.S. has offered $10 million in reward to anyone with information leading to their capture.

In late December Al-Qaeda affiliate released a detailed 41-minute video on YouTube purportedly filmed inside prison showing the escape route and plan of the four men.

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