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Al-Mahdi’s defence team calls for his immediate release

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May 21, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The defence team of the National Umma Party (NUP) leader al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, announced that investigation with the him has been concluded since Saturday and called for his immediate release.

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Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, head of the National Umma Party, flanked by supporters as he leaves the state prosecutor’s office in Khartoumon 15 May 2014 (ST)

Al-Mahdi was arrested over the weekend by Sudanese security and charged on several counts including undermining the constitutional order and opposing the regime through force.

Those charges are punishable by death, life imprisonment and sentences ranging from a few months to several years and confiscation of money.

He was questioned by state security prosecutors last Thursday regarding remarks he made claiming that Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have committed serious abuses in conflict zones in Darfur and Kordofan including rape as well as looting and burning villages.

He went on to say his remarks were based on factual information he obtained from sources in the region as well as from records of 220 police complaints filed by the locals in the towns of El-Obeid and Abu-Zabad in North Kordofan state.

The NUP chief noted that the Sudanese security apparatus violates the constitution by establishing militias even though its mandate is limited to gathering and analysing intelligence.

The defense team, in a statement on Wednesday, demanded either the release of the veteran leader following completion of the investigation procedures according to the law or send him for a public and just trial.

The statement said al-Mahdi reserves his right to undertake all legal procedures that protects his constitutional and legal rights against any person or body or a group which seeks or sought to distort his image by accusing him of high treason or being an agent of foreign bodies and other charges without proof or to violate his right for just, expeditious and public trial.

The former Prime Minister came under fire from Sudanese lawmakers last week who said his remarks amount to treason and belittling the armed forces.

Head of the state security prosecution Yasser Ahmed Mohamed said in a statement on Tuesday that al-Mahdi is in legal custody at the Kober federal prison and that they are following procedures to renew his detention periodically in accordance with the law.

Al-Mahdi’s defence further demanded that judicial authorities abide by the law and terms of the bill of rights which is included into the 2005 interim constitution besides international charters and conventions on the standards of the just trial and the rule of law.

The member of the defence team, Ali Gailoub, stressed that everyone agrees that nobody is above the law as long as there are reasons justifying filing criminal charges against anyone away from purpose, targeting, and political plotting and away from antagonising, inciting the concerned authorities in a way that could amount to the crime of exercising influence on justice.

In a related issue, the political parties that are taking part in the national dialogue process agreed to work collectively to press government to release him and arrange a meeting with president Omer Hassan al-Bashir for that purpose.

"In case of non-response, [political] forces will hold an urgent meeting to take the appropriate decision on the dialogue project whether [agreeing on] continuation or cessation," NUP leading figure and al-Mahdi’s daughter, Mariam said.

The political secretary of the Popular Congress Party (PCP), Kamal Omer, told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday that political forces will reach out to Bashir and not the ruling party as the former is the one which initiated the national dialogue.

(ST)

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