Sudan releases Aussie on bail


Summary

George Forbes, 46, was last week convicted of killing Ukrainian flight engineer Mykola Serebrenikov in the southern Sudan town of Rumbek, despite a post-mortem examination finding the death was suicide.

Forbes, who was suffering from malaria-related kidney problems and dehydration, was detained in Rumbek Prison in squalid conditions.

Parliamentary secretary for foreign affairs Greg Hunt said today Forbes was now out of jail and receiving treatment in hospital after Australia's ambassador to Egypt, Bob Bowker, made representations to Sudanese court officials.

He says conditions in Rumbek Prison had been extremely difficult and like a "cesspit".

"There had been overflowing sewage and they were sleeping on the floor on a mattress that was damp," Mr Hunt said.

"We were passing him medicines and anti-malarials and anything to assist with anti-dehydration."

Execution still a concern

Australian officials were relieved about Forbes' health now that he was out of jail but were still concerned about the possibility the could be executed.

Forbes was working for a Kenyan company in southern Sudan when he was arrested in March and charged with the murder of Mr Serebrenikov.

A post-mortem examination found the death was suicide but Forbes and three Kenyan colleagues were charged over the death.

Mr Hunt said Forbes was expected to appear in the Court of Appeal later this week where fresh evidence would be permitted to be heard.

One of Forbes' Australian lawyers, Alex Danne, was preparing a brief to submit through the ambassador by late today.

Australia remains opposed to the death penalty and is expected to make strong representations to Sudan in the event the court imposes a death sentence on Forbes.

"There hasn't been a sentence yet. We've made our position absolutely crystal clear that we are against it generally and completely against it in this case, were that to be the sentence," Mr Hunt said.


George Forbes, 46, was last week convicted of killing Ukrainian flight engineer Mykola Serebrenikov in the southern Sudan town of Rumbek, despite a post-mortem examination finding the death was suicide.

Forbes, who was suffering from malaria-related kidney problems and dehydration, was detained in Rumbek Prison in squalid conditions.

Parliamentary secretary for foreign affairs Greg Hunt said today Forbes was now out of jail and receiving treatment in hospital after Australia's ambassador to Egypt, Bob Bowker, made representations to Sudanese court officials.

He says conditions in Rumbek Prison had been extremely difficult and like a "cesspit".

"There had been overflowing sewage and they were sleeping on the floor on a mattress that was damp," Mr Hunt said.

"We were passing him medicines and anti-malarials and anything to assist with anti-dehydration."

Execution still a concern

Australian officials were relieved about Forbes' health now that he was out of jail but were still concerned about the possibility the could be executed.

Forbes was working for a Kenyan company in southern Sudan when he was arrested in March and charged with the murder of Mr Serebrenikov.

A post-mortem examination found the death was suicide but Forbes and three Kenyan colleagues were charged over the death.

Mr Hunt said Forbes was expected to appear in the Court of Appeal later this week where fresh evidence would be permitted to be heard.

One of Forbes' Australian lawyers, Alex Danne, was preparing a brief to submit through the ambassador by late today.

Australia remains opposed to the death penalty and is expected to make strong representations to Sudan in the event the court imposes a death sentence on Forbes.

"There hasn't been a sentence yet. We've made our position absolutely crystal clear that we are against it generally and completely against it in this case, were that to be the sentence," Mr Hunt said.