KHARTOUM Feb 27 Sudanese authorities cut off a
hand and foot of a man convicted of armed robbery, rights groups
said on Wednesday, the first such punishment under Islamic law
in Sudan for almost 30 years.
It followed a pledge by President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to
implement a "100 percent" Islamic constitution as a result of
the secession in 2011 of the mainly non-Muslim south of Sudan.
Sharia (Islamic law) was first introduced in the vast
northeast African country in 1983 and Bashir began to expand its
application after he took power in a 1989 Islamist coup.
Floggings are common for drinking alcohol but amputations of
the right hand and left feet - among the most draconian
punishments allowed in Sudan - had not been meted out since the
mid-1980s, according to local rights activists.
But on Feb. 14, doctors at al-Ribat police hospital in
Khartoum amputated the right hand and left foot of 30-year old
Adam al-Muthna under a court order, Human Rights Watch and three
other groups said in a statement, citing reliable sources.
"Cross amputation is a form of state-sponsored torture,"
said Vincent Iacopino, senior medical adviser at U.S.-based
Physicians for Human Rights, which issued the statement with New
York-based HRW as well as British rights groups REDRESS and the
African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies.
The al-Sudani daily said a state court had convicted Muthna
of firing on a car with an assault rifle in the Sharaf area in
March 2006 to force it to stop and then stole 1,000 Sudanese
pounds ($228) from its passengers. It said Sudan's
constitutional court upheld the conviction.
Officials at the justice ministry, the judiciary
headquarters in Khartoum and the constitutional court all
declined to comment on the amputation.
Kamal al-Jazouli, a Sudanese lawyer and human rights
activist, said the government apparently wanted to intimidate
people with the amputation at a time of dissent over galloping
inflation and corruption.
"They want to instil fear in people. How can you punish a
thief in such a draconian way in a poor country like Sudan?"
A group of doctors organised in the opposition group "Change
Now" also denounced the amputation. "Hospitals and medical
institutions are there to treat people and not to execute such
rulings," it said in a statement.
Last year, Sudanese courts sentenced two women for adultery
to stoning, another sentence allowed under sharia. Both women
were later freed after appeal courts overturned the rulings,
according to Fahima Hashim, a women's rights activist.
(Reporting by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Mark Heinrich)