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7 Sudan officers jailed over coup plot walk free

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir pardons seven officers recently convicted of attempting to stage a military coup against him

AFP , Wednesday 17 Apr 2013

Seven Sudanese military officers sent to jail after being convicted over a coup attempt walked free on Wednesday, just days after they were sentenced, an AFP reporter witnessed.

The seven converged on the home of Brigadier Mohammed Ibrahim, who had received the heaviest sentence of five years in prison.

Wearing civilian clothes and shouting "Allahu akbar" (God is greater), they were greeted by hundreds of supporters, relatives and neighbours as celebratory gunfire sounded.

It was not immediately clear why they were freed early but they had requested a presidential pardon on April 9, two days after their sentencing.

The officers could potentially have been executed for the case which analysts have said reflected political turmoil within the 24-year regime of President Omar al-Bashir, who himself took power in a coup.

A military court ordered the soldiers dismissed from the military and issued sentences ranging from two to five years in prison for the plot.

They asked Bashir to pardon them as "political prisoners" under a wide-ranging amnesty which he announced early this month, the army said.

"Now we are free and the case is finished for us," Ibrahim said in brief comments to reporters, after revellers slaughtered four sheep and hoisted the smiling officers on their shoulders.

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