7 April 2013

Sudanese Military Court Hands Down Jail Sentences to Coup Attempt Officers

Khartoum — A Sudanese military court sentenced seven army officers to prison terms of up to five years and dismissed them from service on Sunday for their role in an alleged coup attempt against President Omer Hassan al-Bashir last November.

The Turkish Anadolu Agency (AA) cited the brother of one of the detainees, who declined to be identified for security reasons, as saying that the court session which took place at the army's weapons brigade in Khartoum's northern suburb of al-Kadaro, sentenced Brigadier General Mohamed Ibrahim Abdel-Galil and Major Hassan Abdul Rahim to five-year jail sentence along with dismissal from service.

The court also ordered Colonel Mohammed Zaki el-Deen and Colonel Fath el-Rahim to serve a four-year jail term and also discharged them from service.

Major General Adel Al-Tayeb, Colonel Sheikh Othman, Lieutenant-Colonel Mahmood and Lieutenant-Colonel. Mustafa Mohammad Zain received three-year jail term while assistant Omar Abdel-Fattah was sentenced to two years.

The court also acquitted Sergeant Abu-Obeida who acted as a corroborative witness for the prosecution and Hassan Mustafa whose military rank was not disclosed.

Later the Sudanese army spokesperson Col. al-Sawarmi Khalid Sa'ad confirmed the sentences adding that they were convicted of planning to undermine the constitutional and security order as well as endangering the army and the country's unity.

He said that a security team belonging to the military intelligence and Military Justice administration was formed to investigate those arrested. The latter Col. Sa'ad said, pleaded guilty to the charges of intent and planning to stage a coup.

Following that more arrests were made to around fifteen individuals including thirteen officers and two non-commissioned officers in conjunction with some civilians and officers belonging to the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS).

He stressed that those convicted have fifteen days to appeal their sentences which now await endorsement by president Bashir in his capacity as Supreme Commander of the Sudan Armed Forces.

El-Moiz Abdullah, lawyer and activist from the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) reformist faction, expressed disappointment to AA about these rulings.

"We in the reform movement expected more lenient sentences...we still hope when President Bashir, the commander in chief of the armed forces, views these rulings for final approval issues a decree easing them in order to avoid strife" he said.

GOSH'S DILEMMA:

A well-placed source told Sudan Tribune that the Sudanese authorities delayed the trial of former NISS director Salah Gosh and other security officers who are also charged with involvement in the coup attempt.

Former director of Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Services Salah Gosh

The source predicted similar sentences against NISS associates including Gosh but pointed out to the unique situation of Gosh whom he described as the regime's black box.

"If he is tried in a military court then that poses a problem because it is not a military officer; If he is tried in civilian court then that also a poses problem because he will unearth deep secrets," he said before adding that the ex-spy chief is known for organizational discipline.

Another source told Sudan Tribune after the verdicts that the Sudanese Attorney General has formed a committee to investigate Salah Gosh but that they could not prove his involvement in the coup attempt.

Following that Gosh was charged with "Unlawful Enrichment", he revealed.

"He should have been acquitted first of [involvement in] the coup attempt and released, and then charged with Unlawful Enrichment against him" the source said.

Gosh's arrest marked the downfall of the once powerful spy chief who is better known for his deep cooperation with the United States on counter-terrorism following September 2001 attacks in Washington and New York. He was surprisingly dismissed from his position in 2009 before being appointed as a presidential adviser for security.

In 2011 he was abruptly sacked by President Bashir from the position following an imbroglio between him and the powerful presidential assistant Nafie Ali Nafie over dialogue with opposition parties. He was later stripped of his position within the NCP and only maintained his seat in the parliament.

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