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Sudan pardons Slovenian envoy accused of spying in Darfur

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Sept 2, 2006 (KHARTOUM) — Sudan has pardoned a Slovenian presidential envoy sentenced to two years in jail for spying, publishing false information and entering the country illegally, state press said on Saturday.

Tomo Kriznar, a long-time human rights activist, was caught in July in Darfur while travelling with rebels after he crossed the border illegally from Chad.

"The President of the Republic, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, has issued a decree at recommendation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs dropping the penalty on the Adviser of the Slovenian President ... who had been sentenced by a court to two years imprisonment," the state-owned Sudan news agency said on Saturday.

It said another presidential envoy from Slovenia, Hamdi Balkech, had presented an appeal for his pardon to Bashir on Saturday in Khartoum.

Slovenia had hosted intensive talks with Darfur rebels during the race to sign up rebel groups to a peace deal with Sudan’s government in May.

Only one of three negotiating factions signed the accord, which has been widely rejected in Darfur especially among the 2.5 million people who fled their homes to miserable camps in the region.

Directly following the Slovenian talks the non-signatory rebels formed a new alliance which renewed hostilities with the government. Khartoum calls them "terrorists".

Tens of thousands of people have been killed since mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms in 2003 against central government accusing it of marginalisation. Washington calls the rape, pillage and murder genocide, although Khartoum rejects the charge.

Kriznar has been an activist since the late 1990s against a violent campaign in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains region during Sudan’s separate north-south war.

He was vocal on what many observers called a government-orchestrated campaign against the non-Arab Nuba tribe in the mountainous region.

(Reuters)

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