By Arwa Khishaimani
JEDDAH — Two Saudi investors have been put behind bars in Sudan, one of them for 13 years, without trial but a Saudi diplomat in Khartoum expects them to be released soon.
Ali Hassan Jaafar, the Kingdom’s ambassador to Sudan, said the two prisoners have been detained for breach of investment regulations in the country. that will soon be resolved.
“The embassy has appointed lawyers for them, in addition to lawyers they themselves have hired,” he said.
The ambassador described their case to be of a public nature, not a diplomatic one. “I will not rest until I see them both out of prison,” he said.
A Sudanese security source, who did not want to be identified, said there were only two Saudi nationals in prisons in Sudan and they were both in good health.
The source said there was no recent swap of prisoners between Saudi Arabia and Sudan simply because there were no Saudi prisoners other than these two.
One of the prisoners, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he has so far spent about three years in a Sudanese prison without trial.
“We paid dearly because of our ignorance of the Sudanese investment laws,” he said, adding that there was no investment office or a commercial attache at the Saudi Embassy at the time.
“Things have changed since the new Saudi ambassador took office. Only 10 days in office, the ambassador met with us, transferred us to a better prison and provided us with medical care,” he said.
The first prisoner said he bought a medicine factory and a number of bulldozers for an agricultural project only to discover later that the seller had increased the price four fold.
The second said he arrived in Sudan about 13 years ago for investment but was unable to pay about SR6 million to the government.
“I have since then been kept in a prison about 60 km away from Khartoum without trial,” he added.
The wife of the first prisoner said three weeks after his arrival in Sudan, contact with her husband was severed.
She said her five-year-old son never stopped asking about his father. Her seven-year-old daughter is suffering from acute depression because of her father’s absence from home.