Home | News    Monday 18 August 2003

Only president can free Turabi: Sudan’s justice minister

KHARTOUM, Aug 18, 2003 (AFP) — Lawyers representing Sudanese Islamist leader Hassan al-Turabi asked the country’s justice minister to end his detention, but were told the decision rests with the head of state.

Justice Minister Ali Mohamed Osman Yassine met with Turabi’s lawyers, who said the opposition leader had been in "illegal detention" since Friday, when the initial detention order expired, said Kamal Omar, one of Turabi’s lawyers.

"We have no lawsuit against Dr. Hassan al-Turabi," said the justice minister, adding that President Omar al-Beshir was the one who ordered the detention and only he has "the capacity to free him," Omar said.

Omar, who is also the legal affairs secretary of Turabi’s opposition Popular Congress Party (PCP), has filed a petition with constitutional court demanding the release of eight party officials held in prison without trial, some for as long as 18 months.

Turabi’s arrest in February 2001 capped a power struggle with President Omar al-Beshir, who dismissed the Islamist ideologue from his powerful post of parliamentary speaker in December 1999.

On August 15, 2002, the authorities decided to keep Turabi in custody under an emergency law that allows them to detain people without pressing charges for a renewable period of one year. His second year of detention under this law ended Friday.

The government held Turabi first in a prison, before transferring him in October 2001 to a government detention house in Khartoum’s Kafouri suburb, where his wife Wisal al-Mahdi was allowed to stay.