WASHINGTON – The president of Sudan has inexplicably pardoned a man who aided the jailbreak that allowed the murderers of a Buffalo-born foreign aid worker to escape, and the State Department and Rep. Brian Higgins are outraged about it.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir recently pardoned Mubarak Mustafa, who had been convicted of helping the murderers of John M. Granville to flee from prison through a sewage pipe.
“The pardoning of Mustafa runs counter to previous assurances by the Government of Sudan to hold accountable all those involved in the murder of Granville and Rahama or those responsible in any way,” the State Department said in a statement released by the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum.
Higgins, a Buffalo Democrat, was more blunt. Asked for his reaction to Mustafa’s release, Higgins said: “Bastards!”
Officials at the Sudanese Embassy here did not return phone calls seeking comment on Mustafa’s pardon, which was first reported by the Sudan Tribune.
Granville, 33, who worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development, was killed along with Abdelrahman Abbas Rahama,a Sudanese colleague, while leaving a New Year’s Eve party in Khartoum on Jan. 1, 2008, in what U.S. officials called a terrorist act.
A Sudanese court said Mustafa was an accomplice in the 2010 prison break that allowed four men who had been sentenced to death in connection with Granville’s murder to escape. One of the escapees was quickly recaptured and another died in Somalia in 2011, but two of them – Mohamed Makawi Ibrahim and Abdelbasit Alhaj Alhassan Haj Hamad – remain at large.
The State Department, which has offered rewards of up to $10 million for information leading to the capture of the two fugitives, portrayed the pardon as both a miscarriage of justice and a betrayal.
“In the interest of justice, we urge the Government of Sudan to immediately rescind the pardon and return Mustafa to prison to serve out his term,” the State Department said in its statement. “Failure to retract this pardon is contrary to the commitment of both the United States and Sudan to combat terrorism and hold accountable those responsible for terrorist acts.”
Higgins wrote to Secretary of State John F. Kerry, saying: “I encourage you to continue to bring the full weight of our diplomatic resources to bear to effect the repeal of Mustafa’s pardon and the capture of Hamad and Mohamed.”
In a telephone interview from the Republic of Georgia, where he is on a congressional trip, Higgins termed the pardon “very, very disappointing, particularly to the Granville family.”
Money plays a big role in the criminal-justice system in Sudan, which is “deeply corrupt,” said Higgins, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee who has traveled to the region.
“This is deeply disappointing but not surprising,” Higgins added. “It’s typical of a failed government, typical of a failed state.”