- Somaliland Vice-President Ahmed Yusuf Yasin today raised expectations that Zamzam Ahmed Dualeh, a teenage girl, sentenced by Hargeisa court to four years for espionage and false identification, may be pardoned soon. The trial against the girl has been strongly criticised by human rights groups.
Talking to the local press for the first time since Zamzam was detained four months ago, Vice-President Yusuf accused human rights organisations and Internet-based Somaliland media for spreading false and inflated stories about the case.
- We want to put an end to this case and don't want to keep Zamzam in jail in anymore, he said, asserting however that Somaliland will pursue those who tried to take advantage of Zamzam's vulnerability and "use her as a tool" to harm him personally. The Somaliland government has a long record of jailing journalists for reporting in a "harmful" way.
The statement by the Vice-President comes after intense pressure from human rights organisations and a wide coverage and criticism by Internet-based media. African Rights and Amnesty International called the trial against Zamzam "unfair" and alleged that 16-year-old Zamzam was being ill-treated and abused.
Vice-President Yusuf, on the other hand, that Zamzam's story was a conspiracy that was related to the terrorist acts that had been carried out in Somaliland. He denied that Zamzam was subjected to any kind of rape, physical abuse or torture of any kind, as the teenager has claimed several times.
- I have personally ordered the police authorities to send the girl for medical examination two times and the doctors have each time confirmed that she has not been subjected to any rape or physical abuse, Mr Yusuf said, adding that international human rights organisations were free to come and ascertain the truth by themselves.
He noted that it was only Somaliland President Dahir Riyale Kahin who had the power to pardon certain prisoners after the court issued its ruling and that he expected Zamzam would be entitled to such presidential pardon.
Mr Yusuf refused to name the people he thought were behind the "conspiracy" against him, but observers assume that he meant the authorities in Puntland from where Zamzam hails. He, however, claimed that Zamzam had admitted that she had been hired by certain groups for carry out espionage. This is denied in reports by human rights groups that have been in contact with Zamzam.
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