US concerned as Sudan releases man convicted of slaying diplomat

Abdelraouf Abuzeid was previously convicted in connection to a shooting that killed a USAID employee and his driver.

The United States has expressed “deep concern” about Sudan’s decision to release a man from prison who was convicted in the killing of a US diplomat and a Sudanese colleague.

In a statement on Wednesday, the US Department of State denounced the circumstances surrounding the release of Abdelraouf Abuzeid, who was convicted in the 2008 shooting deaths of embassy employee John Granville and his Sudanese driver Abdel Rahman Abbas.

“We are deeply troubled by the lack of transparency in the legal process that resulted in the release of the only individual remaining in custody,” said Price, “and by the inaccurate assertion that the release was agreed to by the United States Government.”

Granville, a 33-year-old employee for the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and Rahman Abbas were killed in a barrage of bullets during an attack in Sudan’s capital of Khartoum on New Year’s Day in 2008.

Before he was released on Monday, Abuzeid faced the death penalty for his role in the attack. He remains on the US Department of State’s list of “specially designated global terrorists”.

The news agency Reuters has reported that Abuzeid’s family members stated that he was freed as part of a settlement between the Sudanese government and the victims.

In March 2021, the Sudanese government paid $335m to US survivors and families of victims killed in attacks connected to the country, including the 2008 shooting.

“We hope this aids them in finding some resolution for the terrible tragedies that occurred,” Blinken said in a statement at the time, referring to the US families of victims. “With this challenging process behind us, US-Sudan relations can start a new chapter.”

The payment was part of an agreement in which the US removed Sudan from Washington’s list of “state sponsors of terrorism”. Sudan was taken off the list in December 2020, a move that its government hoped would improve its economic relations abroad.

In the Department of State’s statement on Wednesday, the US denied that Abuzeid’s release was “agreed to by the United States Government as part of the Sudanese government’s settlement”.

“We will continue to seek clarity about this decision,” the statement adds.

On Wednesday, Granville’s mother, Jane Granville, said she was “horrified” to learn that one of the men connected to her son’s shooting had been freed.

“In no way did [the 2021 settlement] say that that money was going to release any of these men that killed John,” she told Reuters. “I never would’ve accepted it if that was part of it.”

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