[QODLink]
Africa
Sudan frees opposition leader
Critic who urged president to hand himself in to international court returns home.
Last Modified: 10 Mar 2009 03:49 GMT

Al-Bashir, centre, has rejected calls from critics like al-Turabi to turn himself over to the ICC [AFP]

A Sudanese opposition leader has been released from prison, having been detained for two months for calling on Omar al-Bashir, Sudan's president, to hand himself over to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Hassan al-Turabi was freed from prison in Port Sudan on Monday and flown back to Khartoum, Sudan's capital, without explanation, his family said.

"We don't know what is going to happen, but he has been released ... We are very happy," Siddig, his son, said.

Al-Turabi was arrested on January 14, two days after he urged al-Bashir to surrender to the ICC, which was then considering issuing a warrant for the president's arrest in connection with war crimes committed in Sudan's Darfur region.

Al-Turabi said al-Bashir was "politically culpable" for the conflict there and urged him to hand himself over in order to save Sudan from the sanctions and political turmoil that would follow if he defied the court.

The ICC issued a warrant on Wednesday, charging al-Bashir with seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his involvement in the Darfur crisis.

International justice

Hours after returning home on Monday, al-Turabi expressed his support for the ICC decision.

"I am a man of law, I believe in international justice," he said. "We accept international justice, whether it is for us or against us.

"I read of course the memo of Ocampo [the ICC prosecutor], and I think it was really substantial ... I knew that it would not be rejected completely."

The UN estimates 300,000 people have died since conflict broke out there in 2003, when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated government for a greater share of resources and power.

Al-Bashir has rejected the charges and refused to turn himself over to the court, which is not recognised by the Sudanese government.

Former allies

Al-Turabi was one of al-Bashir's closest advisors when he took power in a bloodless coup in 1989.

But the two split over the introduction of a bill to limit the president's powers in 1999, a move which al-Bashir countered by dissolving parliament and declaring a state of emergency.

Al-Turabi was chairman of al-Bashir's National Congress Party, but was suspended from this post after calling for a boycott of the president's re-election campaign in 2000.

He subsequently formed the Popular National Congress Party, one of Sudan's main opposition parties, which advocates an Islamic state and is critical of Western secularism.

Al-Turabi, a vociferous critic of the government, has been frequently detained, including in 2005 after an alleged coup attempt.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
UNHCR says hundreds of people trapped in Yaloke town risk death if they are not evacuated to safety urgently.
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Featured
Long-standing dispute over Christian use of the word 'Allah' raises concerns about a very un-Merry Christmas.
The threat posed by ISIL has prompted thousands of young Kurds to join the PKK.
Baja California - with its own grim history of disappeared people - finds a voice in the fight against violence.
Russian feminist rockers fight system holding 700,000 - the world's largest per capita prison population after the US.
Weeks of growing protests against Muslims continue in Dresden with 15,000 hitting the streets last Monday.