Lawyers representing three men on trial in Sudan charged with national security crimes opened and closed the defence case on 9 January.
During the hearing in Khartoum, Reverend Hassan Abduraheem, Mr Petr Jašek and Mr Abdulmonem Abdumawla's lawyers presented two witnesses who knew Mr Abdumawla and Mr Ali Omer, the Darfuri student who was injured in a protest in 2013. The witnesses testified to the relationship between Mr Abdumawla and Mr Omer and explained the steps taken by Mr Abdumawla to source funds for Mr Omer’s medical treatment. After the witnesses had been questioned, the defence closed their cases.
The presiding judge is expected to receive written arguments from the prosecutor and defence lawyers on Monday 16 January. He is then expected to deliver his final decision on Monday 23 January.
The three men, who have been in prison since December 2015, are charged with several crimes including two national security crimes, waging war against the state and espionage, which carry life imprisonment or the death penalty as maximum sentences.
The case against the men centres on the provision of funds for the medical treatment of Mr Omer. After learning of Mr Omer’s plight, Mr Jašek travelled to Khartoum in December 2015 to meet him and donate $5000 toward his treatment. The meeting was facilitated by Reverend Abduraheem, who Mr Jašek met at an international conference in November 2015, and Mr Abdumawla, who is a friend of Mr Omer’s and had been collecting funds for his treatment.
As he was leaving Sudan, Mr Jašek was searched at Khartoum Airport by National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) agents, who found a receipt for the $5,000 donation, signed by Reverend Abduraheem and Mr Abdumawla. They arrested Mr Jašek and confiscated his personal belongings, including his mobile phone, laptop and camera.
The prosecution alleges that the $5,000 Mr Jašek donated to Mr Omer’s treatment was in reality support for rebel movements in the South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur regions. By framing the case in this manner, NISS has attempted to exploit the fact that Reverend Abduraheem and Reverend Kuwa Shamal, previously a co-defendants in the trial, are originally from the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan, and Mr Abdumawla is from Darfur.
Last week, Reverend Shamal was released from prison on 2 January 2017, after the trial judge concluded there was no evidence against him and dismissed the charges.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, “As the defence lawyers close their cases, we continue to call for the immediate and unconditional release of Reverend Abduraheem, Mr Jašek and Mr Abdumawla. These innocent men have committed no crimes and have been detained unjustly for over a year simply for an act of kindness. We call on the government of Sudan to ensure that these men are freed. We also urge the government to review the NISS’s powers and to end the targeting religious and ethnic minorities in Sudan.”