Tuesday, June 12, 2007

From death row to freedom

Freed Australian businessman George Forbes has described his three-month ordeal in a squalid Sudanese prison as a "bloody nightmare". He said the experience of living with the ever-present threat of death had left him "mentally fatigued".

Mr Forbes will fly out of Sudan today a free man, after his murder conviction was annulled by the country's court of appeal. Mr Forbes, 46, a construction engineer with Kenyan firm Trax International, was last month convicted of the murder of Ukrainian flight engineer Mykola Serebrenikov, who was found hanging from a towel rack in the company compound in the southern Sudan city of Rumbek in March.

Mr Forbes and three colleagues were convicted of murder, which is punishable by death in Sudan, despite an autopsy concluding the Ukrainian killed himself. A panel of three judges, including the president of the court of appeal, yesterday annulled the convictions of the men, noting the lack of forensic evidence and the lack of evidence of a motive.

Because there was no dissenting decision, the ruling cannot be appealed. Mr Forbes last night said he was elated that his "bloody nightmare" had come to an end. "Finally, after three months, justice and common sense prevailed," he wrote in an email to family and supporters. "The relief we feel is beyond explanation."

This is the kind of life I have in Sudan.



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