Four Sudan Islamists to hang for US diplomat murder
A Sudanese court sentenced four Islamists to death for a second time on Monday for the murder of a US diplomat and his driver in Khartoum last year, AFP reported.
The sentencing came after the mother of John Granville, who worked with the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and the wife of driver Abdel Rahman Abbas both demanded the men be executed.
Granville and Abbas were returning from a New Year's celebration in 2008 when the gunmen opened fire on their car, riddling them both with bullets.
"The murder of a person is as illegal from the point of view of shariah (Islamic law) as it is in Sudanese criminal law," the judge, Said Ahmed al-Badri, said when announcing the sentence.
The court had condemned the men to death in June for the New Year's Day murders of Granville and Abbas but the sentences were cancelled in August after Abbas's father forgave the men.
Under Islamic law, the victim's family has the right to forgive the murderer, ask for compensation or demand execution.
Granville's mother, Jane Granville, at the time had asked for the men's execution but her letter was rejected because it was not notarised. A new letter was submitted by her and read out by a court prosecutor on Sunday.
On Monday, Abbas's wife appeared before the court to demand the death penalty for the four convicts.
One of the defendants, Mohammed Osman Yusef, shouted after sentencing: "You cannot killed a Muslim because he killed a Christian."
Dressed in a traditional white robe, the bearded Yusef, a former military officer, also accused the United States of killing Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Islamic law condemns murder, regardless of the nationality or religion (of the victim," the judge said. Some Muslim scholars say a Muslim can be punished, but not executed, for killing a non-Muslim.
The judge added that according to Islamic law Granville was a "dhimmi" in Sudan, referring to the status of non-Muslims in an Islamic state that affords them protection and a waiver from army service, in return for a tax.
Sudanese law does not recognise non-Muslims in the country as dhimmis.
One of the four condemned men is the son of a leader of pacifist Islamist group Ansar al-Sunna, which is linked to Salafism -- a hardline form of Sunni Islam practised mainly in Saudi Arabia -- but is not involved in politics.
A group calling itself Ansar al-Tawhid had claimed the New Year's Day murder according to SITE, a US-based organisation which monitors Islamist websites.
It said the murder was in response to attempts to raise the banner of Christianity over Sudan, the largest country in Africa.
Federal Bureau of Investigation officers from the United States had helped to investigate the killings which sent shockwaves through the sizeable Western community in Khartoum, a city usually considered one of the safest in Africa.