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US condemns presidential pardon of a man who aided escape of USAID employee assassins

February 11, 2013 (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 US diplomat and his driver five years ago.

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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 remained a silence over the issue.

John Granville, of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and his driver, Abdurrahman Abbas Rahma came under a hail of bullets before dawn on New Year’s Day 2008. The incident remains an anomaly with foreigners in Sudan rarely targeted in assaults of this nature.

"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 US 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".

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 from death row in Khartoum’s maximum-security Kober prison.

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 US has offered a $10 million 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.

(ST)