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Seizure of weapons cargo sparks row in Sudan

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September 6, 2021 (KHARTOUM) - The seizure of 70 boxes of weapons sparked a row between the prosecutor of the Empowerment Removal Committee and the Interior Ministry on Monday.

On Monday, the Interior Ministry stated the cargo of guns and night-vision goggles that arrived in Khartoum on an Ethiopian Airlines plane on Saturday is legally imported by a weapons trader and it will take the needed measures for its release.

For his part, the public prosecutor of the empowerment removal committee swiftly rejected the clearance of the cargo by the interior ministry saying it violates the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Law of Empowerment Removal, and Dismantlement of the June 30 regime.

"Reviewing the decisions of the Public Prosecution Office or evaluating the content of its letters and orders can only be made by the competent judicial authority, not the police which is a law enforcement agency," stressed the prosecution.

The incriminated weapons were imported by a trader under the former regime. When the cargo arrived in Addis Ababa on 23 May 2019, the Ethiopian authorities stopped it for further investigations.

Recently, the Ethiopian carrier decided to release the cargo without informing the Sudanese authorities about the decision, as the lawyer Siraj al-Din Hamid Youssif a known Islamist was the representative of the weapon trader.

Youssif’s involvement in the contacts with Ethiopian Airlines raised suspensions about the cargo, who will use these weapons and why it arrived in Khartoum at this time.

Relations between Addis Ababa and Khartoum are strained due to the border dispute and the GERD dam crisis. Recently the two neighbours traded accusations of support to rebel groups.

The Ethiopian Airlines issued a statement saying they transported legally imported hunting guns "with all proper documents of the shipper and the consignee".

The carrier further disclosed that the Ethiopian security service held the weapons for a long time for verification while the owner of the weapon requested a $250,000 compensation.

"We have all the documentation that proves the legality of the shipment including a letter from the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs" added the statement.

Seniors officials in Khartoum are frustrated by the mismanagement of this issue between the different government organs as the case raises criticism against the hasty announcement of the empowerment removal committee.

(ST)

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