Home | News    Thursday 17 August 2006

Lawyer of Slovene envoy appeals jail sentence

Aug 16, 2006 (LJUBLJANA) — Mohammed Madjub, the defence lawyer of Slovene national Tomo Kriznar, has appealed the verdict with which Kriznar was sentenced to two years in prison for spying by a Sudanese court, the Slovene Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

Tomo Kriznar

Kriznar, Slovene President Janez Drnovsek’s envoy to the region of Darfur, was found guilty on Monday by the court of first instance in the city of Al-Fasher for spying, entering Sudan illegally and spreading lies about the Sudanese government and people.

The Slovene ministry added that the Slovene consul to Egypt was already en-route to Al Fasher and again rejected claims that it was not active enough in their efforts to free Kriznar, also voiced by Kriznar himself.

"The fact is that Kriznar was not sent to Sudan by the ministry. We have not given him our advice, because he had not asked for it," the ministry explained, adding that it has provided and paid for Kriznar’s lawyer.

The ministry added that its endeavours to get Kriznar released also included a request for cooperation by the German embassy in Khartoum, which has responded with maximum efforts.

Public broadcaster Radio Slovenia reported today that the German Ambassador to Sudan, Stephan Keller, pointed out on Wednesday that a Slovene diplomatic representative had still not arrived to Sudan. He recommended that the ministry get more involved in the case on a political level, including by sending a diplomat to Khartoum.

Efforts to release Kriznar were led by Drnovsek and the ministry. While saying that Kriznar went to Sudan according to his own free will, the Slovene president has addressed a special letter to his Sudanese counterpart Omar al Bashir in which he asked for Kriznar’s release.

Drnovsek’s adviser Ivo Vajgl said in an interview today that Drnovsek is fully behind Kriznar and is using his influence to ensure that Kriznar is brought home. "However, all this cannot be done publicly," Ivo Vajgl told commercial broadcaster POP TV in response to why Drnovsek has not given any press statements recently.

Although Vajgl did not want to get into the details of the letter Drnovsek sent to his Sudanese counterpart Omar Al Bashir, he said that the underlying message was that Kriznar should be viewed as a friend of the people of Darfur and Sudan and should be treated as a humanitarian worker not a politician.

Meanwhile, Aegis Trust, a UK-based organisation for the prevention of genocide, urged the public to inundate Sudanese embassies with requests for visas to visit Kriznar in Sudan. It called "for all those concerned with Kriznar’s plight and at the continued lack of international protection for Darfur’s Africans" to apply for visas.

Amnesty International Slovenia (AIS) announced today it would also be launching a campaign for Tomo Kriznar.

"AIS has been closely following the trial. We have been in contact with lawyers and the Germany Embassy in Sudan throughout and we are currently preparing a campaign that is expected to be launched on Thursday," acting AIS head Alenka Jerse said for public broadcaster Radio Slovenija.

According to her, the campaign would involve a request to AIS members and supporters to address calls for Kriznar’s release to Sudanese authorities.

The Sudan tribune receives since the starting of Kirznar trial more that a letter per day urging the Sudanese authorities to release the Slovene envoy.

The fate of Kriznar has also gained internal political dimensions, with the opposition and coalition trading jabs. Leader of the opposition Liberal Democracy (LDS) Jelko Kacin joined today the ranks of those criticising the Foreign Ministry for being too passive in aiding Kriznar.

Meanwhile, chair of the parliamentary foreign policy committee Jozef Jerovsek, an MP of the coalition Slovene Democrats (SDS), hinted that Drnovsek was to blame for the situation. According to him, Drnovsek had failed to consult with the Foreign Ministry when he launched his drive to help Darfur, as part of which Kriznar travelled to Africa in the first place.

The Slovene press also blamed concerned authorities for not equipping Kriznar with a diplomatic passport was a serious blunder by the Slovene authorities.