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Sudan’s ex-spy chief freed after coup charges dropped

July 10, 2013, (KHARTOUM) - Sudan’s former director of National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) Salah Gosh who was charged with plotting a coup, was abruptly released today along with his aide Major General Salah Ahmed Abdalla.

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Salah Gosh, former chief of Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), smiles at his home after his release, in Khartoum July 10, 2013 (REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)

Authorities in Khartoum announced last November that they had thwarted a "sabotage" attempt that was later labeled as a coup and arrested dozens of suspects in the army and security apparatus including Gosh.

Gosh was greeted with jubilation when he arrived at his lavish home in Khartoum and a sheep was slaughtered to celebrate.

“My principles have not changed, I am still the son of the Islamic Movement, the National congress Party (NCP), and the Ingaz [salvation] regime”, he told reporters.

The minister of justice, Mohamed Bushara Dousa, has decided to drop the charges against Gosh and ordered that he be freed along with Maj. Gen. Abdalla.

Dousa justified his move by saying that the defendants have served the nation for a long time adding that he took into account the national interest of the country and unity of its people in the face of the significant challenges, pointing out that he made his decision after consulting with Sudan’s top leadership in reference to Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir.

But Gosh’s lawyer Nabeel Adeeb told Agence France Presse (AFP) that his client was granted an amnesty by Bashir.

Gosh on the other hand told Reuters that prosecutors decided not to pursue the case against him due to a lack of evidence but disclosed that some members of his family appealed to the president to pardon him.

After more than six months in detention, the ex-spy chief and his associate were formally charged last month with undermining the constitutional order, inciting violence to topple the legitimate government and breaching the anti-terrorism law.

Under Sudan’s penal code these charges carry the death penalty or life imprisonment.

President Bashir twice issued decrees over the last three months pardoning and commuting sentences for army and security officers convicted in connection with the coup attempt.

However, the Sudanese president excluded his former adviser and ex-director of NISS.

Sudan’s attorney general Omar Ahmed Mohammed said in a press conference that the release came after Gosh’s defense team asked the justice minister to use his powers under article (58) of the penal code to drop the criminal charges, or to use the powers of the president of the republic under article (211) to pardon him.

But he strongly denied that Gosh’s release was due to lack of evidence, stressing that his defense team appealed on the basis that their client has served the country for a long time.

Gosh was the head of NISS for about a decade until Bashir replaced him in 2009.

During his tenure Gosh boosted cooperation with America’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), particularly after the 9 September 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.

After leaving the security service he became presidential security adviser but was sacked in early 2011.

(ST)