U.S. demands Sudan reverse ruling to free man convicted in envoy's killing

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Adds U.S. official's quotes, details and background on case

By Simon Lewis and Daphne Psaledakis

WASHINGTON, Feb 2 (Reuters) -The United States on Thursday called on the Sudanese government to use all available legal means to reverse a decision this week to release a Sudanese man facing the death penalty in the killing of a U.S. diplomat in 2008.

Abdelraouf Abuzeid was found guilty, along with others, in the killing of American John Granville and a Sudanese colleague, who both worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development and were killed by gunmen in Khartoum.

"We call on the Sudanese government to exercise all available legal means to reverse this decision and to re-arrest Abuzeid," State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters.

Officials met with the Sudanese ambassador to the United States on Thursday and the U.S. ambassador to Sudan, John Godfrey, is engaging Sudanese officials at the highest levels on the issue, Price said.

Peter Lord, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Africa, Sudan and South Sudan will also take up the issue and demand action when he travels to Khartoum next week, Price said.

"We will not relent," Price said.

Abuzeid's brother said on Monday that his sibling was released by Sudan's high court based on a multimillion dollar 2020 settlement between Sudan and victims of attacks including the one that killed Granville.

The money received by Granville's family from the Sudanese government was interpreted by a majority of the court as a release of their right to retribution and the acceptance of blood money, said a Sudanese legal source related to the case.

Granville's mother, Jane Granville, said on Wednesday that she was horrified about hearing of Abuzeid's release.

"In no way did (the settlement) say that that money was going to release any of these men that killed John," Jane Granville said. "I never would've accepted it if that was part of it."

Price said the claim that Granville's family had extended forgiveness was false.

U.S. Senator Jim Risch, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Abuzeid's release was "outrageous."

"This action further drives a wedge between the US and #Sudan, exposes the regime's impunity, and complicates future US assistance," Risch said on Twitter.

Reporting by Simon Lewis, Rami Ayyub and Daphne Psaledakis in Washington and Nafisa Eltahir in Cairo; Editing by Chris Reese and Grant McCool


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