Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Hanged Sudanese 'may be innocent'

From BBC April 14, 2009 - excerpt:
Hanged Sudanese 'may be innocent'
Lobby group Amnesty International has condemned as "outrageous" the hanging of nine Sudanese men convicted of beheading a newspaper editor in 2006.

"They were arbitrarily arrested, tortured and then subjected to an unfair trial," said the body's deputy Africa director Tawanda Hondora.
From Sudan Radio Service April 14, 2009:
(Khartoum) - The family of a man executed after he was accused of assassinating the journalist Mohamed Taha, says that Taha did not write an article criticizing the people of Darfur.

It was alleged at the trial of the nine men who were found guilty of Taha’s murder that an article he had written about Darfur was the motive for the killing. The nine were hanged on Monday.

Habib Ali Abdul Mageed, the brother of Abdul Majeed Ali, who was among those sentenced to death and executed for the murder, claimed that the nine executed people were innocent.

Mageed also claimed that it was the Sudanese authorities who had killed the journalist.

[Habib Ali Abdul Mageed]: “The decision is oppressive, first of all, let me correct some information for the people in Sudan, this message is to Taha’s family, so they don’t think mistakenly that he was killed by these nine people. The media tried to hide the truth. The truth is that the journalist Taha did not write anything about the Fur community or even about the court, because the accusation said that he was killed because he abused the Fur tribe, he did not write anything about the Fur. Mohamed Taha was killed by the same hand which killed these innocent nine people. The government is trying to cover up by killing innocent people who are opposing them. These people, (the government) killed Mohamed Taha.”

Mageed claimed that the suspects wanted to get to the truth by meeting Taha’s family but the authorities rejected their demand.

[Habib Ali Abdul Mageed]:]: “This is a special message to Taha’s family, that the nine innocent suspects wanted to deliver a message before they went to the gallows, but the authorities refused to allow that. The message is that they did not want mercy, because they did nothing wrong. The message was to urge Taha’s family not to become involved in the crime with the people who hatched the plot, to be patient, to seek the truth.”

Habib said that the lawyer who was defending the accused was detained and was due to be released today (Tuesday).

[Habib Ali Abdul Mageed]: “The lawyer, Kamala Omer, the hero who was sent to jail because of these innocent people, in order not to attend the catastrophe of yesterday, Kamal Omer will be released today according to my information. He does not know what has happened to the people whom he was defending.”

The editor of the Al-Wifaq newspaper, Mohamed Taha Mohamed Ahmed, was kidnapped by armed men from his home and his decapitated body was found the following morning lying on the street in southern Khartoum on September 6, 2006.

Taha was an Islamist who was detained several times and tortured by national security agents for criticizing the government.

In 2005, he wrote a controversial article about the origins of the prophet Mohamed, which was met with anger and death threats by some extremists in Sudan.

The nine men who were executed were buried together in a mass grave in al-Sahafa graveyard on Tuesday.
From Reuters April 14, 2009:
Crowd burns Khartoum shops, cars after executions
(Khartoum) - A crowd of angry demonstrators burned shops and cars in a local market in south Khartoum, residents said on Tuesday, a day after nine Darfuri men were executed for the killing of a newspaper editor.

Some 5,000 people turned out under a heavy police presence to attend the funerals of the nine men, found guilty of killing Mohamed Taha Mohamed Ahmed in September 2006.

Some in the crowd chanted slogans in support of the Sudan Liberation Movement, a Darfur rebel group which has been fighting the government in the western region of Darfur.

Local radio, citing witnesses and security sources, reported that relatives of the executed men had clashed with police in two places.

Witnesses said a small number of demonstrators destroyed and damaged shops and cars on the way to the funerals.

At the men's trial, the lead police investigator said the defendants had been infuriated by an article in Ahmed's newspaper, al-Wifaq. A defence lawyer said the article played down reports about rape in Darfur and used unflattering language to describe Darfuri women.

The newspaper had also angered Islamists with articles about the Prophet Mohammad and had criticised the ruling National Congress Party of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

The human rights group Amnesty International condemned the executions, saying the men were tortured to extract confessions.

"The execution of the nine men is outrageous. They were arbitrarily arrested, tortured and then subjected to an unfair trial," said Tawanda Hondora, Amnesty's Africa Deputy Director.

The government, viewing the killing of the editor and the trial as sensitive matters, initially restricted reporting of the case to state media.
From Sudan Tribune April 15, 2009:
Nine hanged men claimed innocence
April 14, 2009 (KHARTOUM) — Nine people executed Monday by the Sudanese authorities had asserted their innocence before being hanged for the murder of a prominent Islamist journalist in 2006. Also, the Fur tribe protested the execution and considered it as directed against their ethnic group.

The editor of Al-Wifaq daily Mohamed Taha Mohamed Ahmed was snatched from his home in a northern district of Khartoum by armed men and his decapitated body was found the following morning lying on the street in southern Khartoum on September 6, 2006.

Ahmed’s murder had been perceived at first as motivated by blasphemy for articles republished from the internet that questioned the parentage of Islam’s prophet Muhammad; also a group claiming to be al-Qaida’s branch in Sudan issued a claim of responsibility for the murder.

Sudanese authorities responded by indicting ten people belonging to the Fur tribe, one of the most affected by the Darfur conflict. Also, the Ministry of Justice kept secret for a time the details on those arrested for the killing or on their motive.

But later, they disclosed that according to the confessions obtained from the suspects, Mohamed Taha had been slaughtered because of articles questioning the morals of Darfuri women in reaction to reports about sexual violence against women in the war-ravaged Darfur region.

"The convicted told their families before being executed they were innocent and never killed the journalist," one of the relatives of the convicted people told Sudan Tribune today from Khartoum on condition of anonymity. The relative added that they told that to their family just hours before the execution.

"They said they should be considered as martyrs for the cause of Darfur and asked their families to not weep for them," the source added, before commenting "this is a political crime." He stressed that the convicted were tortured to confess to the crime.

"And you should know that even under torture only three confessed and retracted before the judge," he added.

Yesterday morning the penitentiary authorities of Koper Prison allowed the nine convicted to meet their families for two hours. Hundreds of Darfuris were gathered outside the prison, while Mohamed Taha’s family was allowed to witness the hanging.

"The execution of the nine men is outrageous. They were arbitrarily arrested, tortured and then subjected to an unfair trial," said Tawanda Hondora, Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

The hanging also angered Darfuri who demonstrated in Khartoum to protest the hanging of the nine men. On Tuesday some 5000 demonstrators burned shops and cars in south Khartoum. They also chanted slogans supporting the Sudan Liberation Movement, a rebel group led by the exiled Abdel Wahid Al-Nur.

Further, in a statement released from the Darfuri Osman Tarleen, one of Fur traditional leaders called to investigate the execution of the nine Fur saying it came in line with the crimes committed by the government in the region since 2003.

All these crimes will not "cow the will of our tribe — instead such intimidations increases our determination" to struggle for the rights of our people, the tribal leader said.

The nine men executed in Khartoum-North yesterday were: Ishag Al-Sanusi Juma, aged 75 years; Abdel Hai Omer Abdel Majeed, 45 years; Mustafa Adam Mohamed Mohamed Khalifa, 72 years; Abdel Majeed Ali, 33 years; Sabir Zakariya Hassan, 28 years; Gamal Eldin Eisa Al Haj, 45 years; Adam Ibrahim Alhaj, 44 years; Mohamed Birgid, 65 years; and Hassan Adam Fadol, 55 years.

The nine were buried in Sahafa East Cemetery.

1 Comment 15 April 2009 by Mr. Moto Moto
The justice system in Sudan has and will remain a suspect because of the way justice is dispense. Because of so much interference it is hard to tell whether people are convicted rightly or wrongly. Whereas I believe intimidation of journalists should never be condone, it is quite surprising that all the supposed members of "Al qaeda in Sudan" who were hange last monday are Darfuris. This begs lots of questions

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