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Long prison sentences in Sudan espionage case

January 29 - 2017 KHARTOUM
People gather near the Khartoum North Criminal Court in support of the Christians charged by the security apparatus, 21 November 2016 (RD file photo)
People gather near the Khartoum North Criminal Court in support of the Christians charged by the security apparatus, 21 November 2016 (RD file photo)

A Khartoum court today handed-down hefty prison sentences to a Czech activist, a Nuba priest, and a Darfuri activist, in a case that has dragged-on for two years.

Amid intense security measures, the judge of the Khartoum North Criminal Court, sentenced Petr Jašek to life imprisonment (which amounts to 24 years in Sudan) and a fine of SDG 100,000 ($15,440). His co-accused, Rev. Hassan Abdelrahim Kodi, and Darfuri student and activist Abdelmunim Abdelmoula, were each sentenced to 12 years imprisonment.

Defence lawyer Dimas James told Radio Dabanga that the court condemned the Czech on charges of espionage, illegally entering Sudan, and spreading false news about the country.

Rev. Kodi and Abdelmoula were condemned on charges of aiding espionage, spreading false news about Sudan, and stirring up religious strife between communities.

The lawyer stressed that the defence team will appeal the verdicts.

Funds

The news about the case has been full of contradicting details. It has been unclear for some time that Jašek was not a priest but a Christian activist. Certain sources also alleged that Abdelmoula had converted to Christianity.

According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) the case against the men centres on the provision of funds for the medical treatment of Ali Omar, a young man from Darfur who was injured in a demonstration in 2013.

After learning of Omar’s plight, Jašek travelled to Khartoum in December 2015 to meet him, and donate $5,000 for his treatment. The meeting was facilitated by Rev. Kodi, who Jašek met at a conference in the Ethiopian capital in November 2015, and Abdelmoula, who is a friend of Omar, and collected funds for his treatment.

As he was leaving Sudan, Jašek was searched at Khartoum Airport by agents of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), who found a receipt for the $5,000 donation, signed by Rev. Kodi and Abdelmoula. They arrested Jašek and confiscated his personal belongings, including his mobile phone, laptop, and camera.

Rev. Kodi and Rev. Kuwa Shemaal attended a conference in Addis Ababa in 2015, during which they alleged that the Sudanese government oppresses Christians. This is considered to be inciting hatred against the state and within Muslim and Christian communities. Abdelmoula was accused of supporting the pastors in their “subversive activities”.

The prosecution alleges that the $5,000 donation was in reality support for rebel movements in the South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Darfur. By framing the case in this manner, NISS has attempted to exploit the fact that Rev. Kodi and Rev. Shemaal are originally from the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan, and Abdelmoula is from Darfur, the CSW report stated.

On 2 January, Rev. Shemaal, was released from prison, after the judge concluded there was no evidence against him and dismissed the charges.


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