February 9, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – A man convicted as an accomplice in the escape of four men who were sentenced to death over the killing of a US diplomat and his driver five years ago has been pardoned by Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir, a lawyer told a local newspaper.
- Four Sudanese convicts raise their handcuffs as they are escorted out of the courtroom in the capital Khartoum, 24 June 2009. (REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)
In statements carried by pro-government Akhir-Lahza newspaper on Friday, Abu Bakr Abdel-Razik said that his client Mubarak Mustafa was released last week after receiving a presidential pardon.
Abdel-Razik did not provide further details or explain why Mustafa - one of four men sentenced in the case - was a beneficiary of the amnesty.
John Granville, of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and his driver, Abdurrahman Abbas Rahma on 2008 came under fire from a hail of bullets just before dawn on New Year’s Day in 2008 in a rare crime directed at foreigners in Sudan.
Sudanese authorities eventually captured five men, believed to belong to the Islamic militant group Ansar al-Tawhid, charging 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 from death row at the maximum-security Kober prison in the Sudanese capital.
The Sudanese government at the time said the prisoners used sewer pipes to escape.
One of the fugitives was reportedly killed in Somalia under mysterious circumstances, while another was re-arrested.
The United States had called on the Sudanese government to “initiate a thorough investigation of the circumstances surrounding this escape” and “to prosecute, to the full extent of the law, any individuals or groups found complicit in the escape of these criminals”.
A former US official told Sudan Tribune last month that Washington believed the inmates received inside help to flee the prison, but had no evidence linking anyone in the Sudanese government.