CAIRO (UKTN) — Sudanese authorities have released a man convicted of killing a US diplomat in a 2008 shooting spree in the capital Khartoum, his family said Tuesday. The release followed a 2020 deal between Sudan and the Trump administration that included compensation schemes for killings of Americans.
Abdel-Raouf Abu Zaid, labeled a terrorist by the United States, was arrested weeks after the shooting. He was found guilty and sentenced to death for the murder of John Granville, an official with the US Agency for International Development, and Granville’s Sudanese driver.
Abu Zaid spent most of the past 15 years behind bars in Khartoum’s Kubar prison and was released on Monday, according to his brother, Abdel-Malek Abu Zaid, who posted photos on social media of the scene outside the prison after the release of Abdel-Raouf.
Abdel-Malek declined to elaborate, but one of the country’s daily newspapers, the Sudani, reported that the Abu Zaid family had paid blood money to the family of the murdered driver. Under Islamic law, or Sharia, which follows the Sudanese judiciary, a convicted person can be pardoned if his victim’s family is financially compensated.
A spokesman for Sudan’s ruling army declined to comment on the matter. Other officials could not be reached for comment.
The US State Department said it was aware of the reported release of Abdel-Raouf Abu Zaid, who was labeled a terrorist by the US in 2013, and sought further information from authorities in Khartoum.
“We call for full accountability for the killings,” said Granville’s State Department and his driver, Abdel Rahman Abbas Rahama.
Earlier this month, Abu Zaid’s family apologized for the murder of Granville and his driver, saying in a video message: “We, as a family, apologize and acknowledge Abdel-Raouf’s mistake and he has already admitted his mistake and expressed regret and remorse for what happened.”
Three other men were sentenced to death along with Abu Zaid, while a fifth man was jailed for two years for supplying the weapons used in the attack.
The four awaiting hanging escaped from prison in June 2010, killing a Sudanese police officer and wounding another during a shootout in Omdurman, Khartoum’s twin city, according to a Sudanese report to Interpol International Police Agency.
Abu Zaid was recaptured weeks later and returned to Kubar Prison. The three other men were not recaptured. According to local reports, two of them later died in Somalia, while the third still lives there.
In 2020, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s former caretaker government of Sudan reached a deal with the Trump administration to prevent future damages claims against the African country from being brought in US courts.
This came after Sudan paid $335 million to settle damages cases in US courts related to the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the deadly 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen’s southern port of Aden, which killed 17 Marines, as well as The Murder of Granville.
Granville, 33, was a USAID official. He worked to implement a 2005 peace agreement between northern and southern Sudan that ended more than two decades of civil war.
He was driving home from a New Year’s Eve party early on January 1, 2008, when another vehicle intercepted his car and the gunmen inside opened fire on Granville’s vehicle, killing him and his driver, also a USAID employee. came. The attackers then fled.
UK Time News writer Ellen Knickmeyer in Washington contributed to this report.