Sudanese convicted of US murder dismiss defence

Four Sudanese who face the death penalty for killing a US diplomat dismissed their defence team yesterday, denounced the trial as political and labelled the United States murderers of Muslims.
The four were condemned to hang for the 2008 murder of John Granville, 33, who worked for the US Agency for International Development, and his driver, Abdelrahman Abbas Rahama, 39.
Granville, from Buffalo, New York, was the first US official to be killed in Khartoum for more than 30 years and the New Year’s Day murders shocked the expatriate community there, Reuters reports.
Procedural problems meant the death sentence is being reconsidered. At a hearing yesterday the convicted men waived their right to a defence.
“This case is a political trial and we release our defence team,” Abdel Basit al-Hajj Hassan said, speaking on behalf of all four.
Another, Mohaned Osman, called Granville a “kafir”, or disbeliever, and said: “The Americans killed Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan and even in Darfur.”
Under Sudanese law, the families of murder victims can choose blood money or the death penalty for retribution.
Granville’s family reaffirmed their request for the death penalty but Rahama’s wife was not present so the court adjourned until today to hear her.
Even if Rahama’s wife pardoned the accused, the death penalty for Granville’s murder would most likely still stand, said one of the defence team, Adil Abdelgani.
Granville was returning home from New Year celebrations on January 1, 2008 when he and Rahama were shot.
In earlier hearings, prosecution lawyers and witnesses described the accused as religious extremists who had plotted to kill Americans they blamed for the introduction of international peacekeepers into Sudan’s Darfur region.
The defendants had denied murdering Granville, saying videotaped confessions shown to the court were extracted under torture.