/ 1 May 2008

Sudan may charge five for US diplomat’s murder

Sudan will decide in two weeks whether to charge five people suspected of murdering a United States diplomat and his driver on January 1, state media said on Thursday.

Abdeen al-Tahir, a senior Interior Ministry official, told the Sudanese Media Centre the case would be referred to the Justice Ministry for trial in about 15 days.

”Those accused of committing this crime are from a small isolated group with extremist views,” he said. The five are all Sudanese. In February, Sudan said it had arrested two Muslim ”fundamentalists” in connection with the killings.

John Granville, who worked in the humanitarian aid arm of the US embassy in Khartoum, was shot on his way home from a New Year’s Eve party on the morning of January 1.

The US sent officials to help the Sudanese authorities investigate the killings.

They followed the discovery in August of a plat to bomb Western embassies in Khartoum. Many embassies increased their security procedures.

Khartoum is usually considered one of the safest African capitals despite multiple civil wars in the peripherals of Africa’s largest country.

The government’s stand-off with the international community over a conflict in Darfur has translated into resentment at the tens of thousands of wealthy foreigners who have flooded in over the past few years, raising food and house prices.

Sudan’s government imposed Islamic sharia law in 1983. A 2005 north-south peace deal lifted sharia from the mainly Christian, animist south but it remains in place in Khartoum and the north. – Reuters 2008