Sudan Trial starts for clergymen
15 Aug 2016
Reverend Hassan Abduraheem, Reverend Kuwa Shamal and Mr Abdulmonem Abdumawla missed their first court hearing on 14 August after prison authorities failed to transport them there.
the short hearing, the judge confirmed the charges against the men and set a
date for the next hearing on 21 August.
men are accused of at least seven crimes, including complicity to execute a
criminal agreement (Article 21 of the Sudanese Criminal Code); waging war
against the state (Article 51); espionage (Article 53); calling for opposition
of the public authority by violence or criminal force (Article 63); exciting
hatred between classes (Article 64); propagation of false news article (Article
66); and entry and photography of military areas and equipment (Article 57).
The maximum sentence for waging war against the state (article 51) and
espionage (article 53) is the death penalty.
Abduraheem has been detained since December 2015, while Reverend Shamal has
been held since May 2016 and Mr Abdumawla has been detained since December
2015. The men were moved to Al-Huda Prison in Omdurman on 11 August after
spending a week at Omdurman Men’s Prison which is a minimum security facility.
No reason was given for the transfer, but their lawyer has raised concerns
about the distance of the facility from Khartoum, where their families reside,
and the prison’s history of failing to transport defendants to court hearings.
Reverend Abduraheem and Mr Abdumawla revolves around a request for assistance
with medical costs from a young Darfuri man named Ali Omer. Mr Omer was injured
during a demonstration at the Quran Karim University in Omdurman in mid-2015
and was left with severe burns that require regular medical care. His friend Mr
Abdumawla began collecting funds for medical treatment from various
organisations and individuals. Through a colleague, Mr Abdumawla was put in
contact with Reverend Abduraheem, who donated money for Mr Omer’s treatment.
The case against Reverend Shamal appears to be related to his friendship with
Reverend Abduraheem and his senior position in the Sudan Church of Christ.
Solidarity Worldwide’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, “We are seriously concerned
that the trial of Reverend Abduraheem, Mr Abdumawla and Reverend Shamal began
in their absence. The serious charges levelled against Reverend Abduraheem and
Mr Abdumawla simply for seeking to assist with medical expenses, and against
Reverend Shamal merely for being a Christian and a friend of Reverend
Abduraheem, have no foundation or merit. We call on the Sudanese Government to
ensure that this trial is conducted with respect to Fair Trial Principles,
which includes at the minimum ensuring that the men are present at every
hearing, and have regular access to legal representatives and family members.
We also urge the government to end the harassment and targeting of religious
and ethnic minorities by NISS, and to uphold the civil rights of every Sudanese