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Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, the president of Sudan. By U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jesse B. Awalt | Wikimedia Commons

Sudanese pastor released after 17 months in prison

A Sudanese pastor and an activist who both received 12-year sentences for inciting hatred and espionage were released yesterday after getting a presidential pardon.

Sudanese officials first arrested Rev. Hassan Taour and Abdumonem Abdumawla in December 2015, along with Czech aid worker Petr Jasek.

“We thank God for his release, “ Taour’s wife told Morning Star News.

The three men had raised money for the treatment of a student who suffered burns during a 2013 demonstration. Pro-government militia sparked the violence at Al Zaiem Al azhari University when they attacked a student forum protesting the government’s move to scrap fee waivers for students from the country’s Darfur region.

A court sentenced Taour and Abdumawla in January for helping Jasek, who was sentenced to 23 1/2 years in prison but received a presidential pardon in February.

Jan Figel, the EU special envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief, called in March for the president to extend his pardon to the two Sudanese men. Figel welcomed the release as “good news” on his Twitter page and thanked Sudanese officials who assisted in the case.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom last month recommended listing Sudan among the top 10 countries of particular concern. The men’s release comes after Sudanese authorities on Sunday demolished the last church building in the country’s southeastern Soba Aradi district. Christian leaders have said the government plans to demolish 26 other churches based on claims that they are built on land designated for other purposes.

— by Onize Ohikere

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