- Sudanese editor Mohamed Taha was buried in Khartoum today, one day after his decapitated was found outside the city. Thousands mourned the estimated and outspoken journalist. While the police says it has made some arrests, widening speculations over the killer's motives complicate investigations.
Mr Taha was taken to his final rest in a moving ceremony today, followed by family members and thousands of mourning journalists, state officials and ordinary, worried citizens. The grotesque crime against the editor of the daily 'al-Wifaq' could bode for tougher times for Sudanese expressing independent opinions, many fear.
The editor of the semi-independent daily had been kidnapped from his Khartoum residence by unknown assailants on Tuesday evening, in an armed action witnessed by his family. Yesterday, his dead body was found decapitated, with his hands and feet bound, by police officer in a residential areas south of Khartoum.
Colleagues in Sudan and from abroad immediately demanded swift police action to find the Mr Taha's assassins. It is widely assumed that the brutal and "cowardly murder" is related to Mr Taha's function as editor of a newspaper that has dared to speak up against several powerful groups and provoked radical Islamist groups.
Khartoum police officials earlier today stated there had been several arrests in the investigations following Mr Taha's murder. These arrests however later were played down, indicating that they represented a failed track. The national police however is making great efforts to demonstrate that it takes the murder investigation seriously - countering some speculations that the killing was ordered by official power holders.
The main speculation among the foreign press and some Sudanese has been that radical Islamist group, such as terrorism-accused Ansar al-Sunnah, stood behind the medieval-style killing. The fundamentalist group in 2005 had filed a complaint against Mr Taha for "blasphemy" after he had published an article discussing alternative theories on the ancestry of the Prophet. While all charges against Mr Taha were dropped, an angry mob outside the courtroom had called for his execution.
Six-months ago, unidentified assailants set fire to the offices of 'al-Wifaq', badly damaging the building. The perpetrators were never identified, but the incident was generally seen in connection with the ongoing "blasphemy" allegations against Mr Taha. The editor himself denounced that he had received death threats from militant Islamist groups. Sudan is religiously conservative and penalises blasphemy and insulting Islam with the death penalty.
The Sudanese and Arab press today however has brought new details, indicating that 'al-Wifaq' had been making enemies also in the political sphere, although Mr Taha was known to hold mostly pro-government views. Opposition parties and human rights groups noted that his newspaper lately had enhanced its criticism against the policies of the ruling party. Mr Taha however also had angered many opposition groups.
Demands for a thorough investigation into the editor's killing were repeated by many sources today. The killers needed to be "brought to justice" as soon as possible, several press freedom organisations have stated.
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