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Cablegate: Appeals Court Decision of Granville/Abbas Murder Trial

VZCZCXYZ0002
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHKH #1002/01 2441338
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 011338Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4345
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC 0085

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 001002

SIPDIS

DOJ FOR NATIONAL SECURITY DIVISION
DEPT FOR M, P, L, AF, DS, S/USSES, CA AND S/CT
DEPT FOR USAID

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC PTER PGOV SU
SUBJECT: APPEALS COURT DECISION OF GRANVILLE/ABBAS MURDER TRIAL

1. (U) SUMMARY: On July 22, 2009, the Khartoum Court of Appeals
issued its decision regarding the defendants' appeal of the
Granville/Abbas murder trial. The Court affirmed the verdicts of
the four men convicted of murder by the trial court. The Court
overturned the weapons-related convictions of two of the four men
convicted of murder. The Court also overturned the weapons-related
conviction of a fifth man but remanded the case to the trial court
for consideration of alternative charges. The Appeals Court noted
that the Ab"as family has reconsidered their earlier decision to
request the death penalty and has formally waived their right to
retribution. Accordingly, the Appeals Court set aside the death
penalty and remanded the case to the trial court to solicit the
position of the Granville family with respect to the death penalty.
The trial court is scheduled to hold a session on September 15,
2009, during which it will request that the Granville &amily's
position be presented to the court. END SUMMARY

2. (U) Following the conviction on June 24, 2009 of the five men
involved in the January 1, 2008 murders of USAID Officer John
Granville and FSN driver Abdelrahman Abbas, the defendants appealed
the trial court decision to the Khartoum Court of Appeals. In its
July 22, 2009 decision (Note: The written decision of the A0peals
Court was delivered to the Embassy on August 18 and formal
translation was completed on August 26. End Note), the Appeals
Court considered the evidence and arguments provided by the defense
counsel and confirmed the verdicts of the four men convicted of
murder, Mohamed Makawi Ibrahim, Abdel Basit Hag El-Hassan Hag
Mohamed, Muhanad Yousif Mohamed, and Abdel Raouf Abu Zaid Mohamed
Hamza.

3. (U) The appeals court overturned the sentence of the fifth man,
Morad Abdelrahman Abdullah Al-Sheikh, who had been convicted of a
weapons-related charge only. The Appeals Court held that in order
to be guilty of the particular weapons crime charged, the defendant
would have had to have been in possession of a firearm at the time
of the attack. Because Mr. Al-Sheik was not present at the
shootings, he could not have been convicted of this weapons charge.
The Court remanded the case to the trial court so that it could
consider whether Mr. Al-Sh%ikh should be convicted of crimes related
to harboring the perpetrators and otherwise providing assistance.
Although not mentioned in the decision itself, the maximum penalty
for harboring perpetrators under Sudanese law is five years
imprisonment. Mr. Al-Sheik was originally sentenced to two years
imprisonment, effective beginning January 19, 2008. Under Sudanese
law, prisoners receive credit for one-year time served for each
seven months of good behavior in prison.

4. (U) The four men convicted of murder were also convicted by the
trial court of weapons-related crimes. The Appeals Court overturned
the weapons-related verdicts of Mr. Muhanad Mohamed and Mr. Hamza,
reasoning that these defendants were not in possession of firearms
at the time of the attack.

5. (U) The Appeals Court directed the trial court to consider a more
severe penalty in the case of Mr. Ibrahim and Mr. Muhanad Mohamed
with respect to their convictions on document forgery and false
statement charges.

6. (U) The Appeals Court also noted that the Abbas family had
communicated to the Court its desire not to seek the death penalty
for the four men convicted of murder. Some media sources have
reported that the Abbas family may have accepted compensation from
the defendants for its decision, a practice that is permitted under
Sudanese law. The Appeals Court subsequently set aside the death
penalty sentence imposed by the trial court and remanded the case to
the trial court to solicit from the Granville family its intention
with regard to the imposition of the death penalty. The Appeals
Court stated that, prior to sentencing the defendants, the trial
court should have allowed the Granville family time to appropriately
present its request for retribution. The trial court is now
instructed to receive the appropriately authenticated statement from
the Granville family.

7. (U) Several media sources in both local and international press
have suggested that the Appeals Court commuted the death penalty of
the four men convicted of murder without regard to the Granville's
family sentencing intentions. The articles do not reflect the fact
that the Appeals Court has instructed the trial court to solicit
from the Granville family its' intention with regard to the death
penalty.

8. (U) The next court session has been scheduled for September 15,
2009. In preparation for that session, USAID/Office of General
Counsel has been working closely with the Granville family, the U.S.
Attorney for the Western District of New York and the Granville
family's Sudanese attorney to have the necessary documents
authenticated, translated, and delivered to Khartoum for
presentation to the trial court. This process is expected to be
completed prior to September 15.

9. (U) Under Sudanese law, the right of retribution belongs to each
murder victim's family. Therefore, even if one family waives its
right to retribution, the court should honor another victim's
family's request for the death penalty. A victim's family can
decide to waive its right to retribution at any point prior to the
carrying out of the execution. If both victims' families waive
their rights to retribution, then the four men convicted of murder
would be sentenced to imprisonment for up to ten years plus the
additional penalties of the other crimes for which they were found
guilty. Prison sentences may also be pardoned by the President of
Sudan under Sudanese law. The President does not have the power to
pardon defendants who are punished based on a victim's family's
right to retribution.

10. (U) The Appeals Court decision can be appealed to the Supreme
Court of Sudan for a final decision. The deadline for making such
an appeal is 15 days following the trial session currently scheduled
for September 15.


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