The trial of Reverend Hassan Abduraheem, Reverend Kuwa Shamal, Mr Petr
Jašek and Mr Abdulmonem Abdumawla has been postponed for the second time in two
weeks in the latest in a series of delays that are raising concerns regarding their
right to a fair trial.
The hearing, which was due to take place on 31 October in Khartoum, was rescheduled
for 3 November, as the judge was absent. Last week, a hearing scheduled for 24
October was postponed to 31 October, because the judge was out of the country.
These postponements follow several unnecessary
delays in the case. The last hearing on 17 October was preceded by a three-week
adjournment for the translation of documents. Prior to that, hearings had been
postponed due to the absence of either the judge or prosecution, and the
failure of the prison service to transport the men to court.
The four men are charged jointly with at least seven
crimes, including waging war against the state (Article 51 of the Sudanese
Criminal Code) and espionage (Article 53), which carry the death penalty as the
maximum sentence. While trial proceedings started in August 2016, Reverend Abduraheem,
Mr Jašek and Mr Abdumawla have been in detention since December 2015, and
Reverend Shamal has been detained since May 2016.
The case against Reverend Abduraheem, Mr Jašek and
Mr Abdumawla centres on the provision of finances for the medical needs of Mr
Ali Omer, a young man from Darfur who was injured in a demonstration in 2013.
The prosecution alleges that the USD$5,000 Mr Jašek donated towards 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 the National
Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) has sought to exploit the ethnic
origins of Reverends Abduraheem and Shamal, who are from the Nuba Mountains,
and Mr Abdumawal, who is from Darfur. Reverend Shamal was not involved in
fundraising for Mr Omer’s treatment but appears to have been included in the
case due to his senior position in the Sudan Church of Christ, his relationship
with Reverend Abduraheem and his ethnicity.
CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, “We are concerned
by the continuing delays in the trial of Reverend Hassan Abduraheem, Reverend Kuwa Shamal, Mr Petr Jašek and
Mr Abdulmonem Abdumawla. Fair trial principles stipulate that criminal
proceedings should occur within a reasonable time. In this case, the constant postponements
due to the absence of the judge or prosecutor or failure to transport the men
to court are prolonging proceedings unnecessarily, which is unacceptable, given the length of time these
men have already spent in custody. We continue to call for the unconditional
and immediate release of these unjustly detained men. In the event the trial continues,
we urge the government of Sudan to ensure it proceeds in line with fair trial
principles outlined in article 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights,
to which Sudan is a party.”
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