– The Ministry of Foreign Affairs takes this matter very seriously, where one Norwegian has been sentenced to death, says Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide to Dagbladet.
On Saturday, Søreide got in direct contact with President Muse Bihi Abdi in the breakaway republic of Somaliland, where the Norwegian citizen Saad Jidre (54) was sentenced to death on Wednesday.
– On Saturday morning, I contacted the president of Somaliland and gave a clear message that the death penalty is unacceptable and must not be carried out, says Foreign Minister Søreide.
She also emphasized that the Norwegian must have access to ordinary legal proceedings.
– The president assured me that the execution of the death penalty would not happen now, and that the Norwegian citizen would have the opportunity to appeal, Søreide says.
Norway’s ambassador to Nairobi has also been in contact with Somaliland’s foreign minister and Supreme Court justice to express the views of the Norwegian authorities.
– We have conveyed the same to Somaliland’s representative in Norway, when he was called to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday, Søreide says.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs has made it clear to the authorities in Somaliland what Norway thinks about the death penalty.
– We distance ourselves from all use of the death penalty, says the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
I have a great understanding that this situation is difficult for both the Norwegian and his family, Søreide tells Dagbladet.
Uses all channels
– What do the Norwegian authorities do next in this case where Saad Jidre, who has been a Norwegian citizen since 1995, has been sentenced to death by shooting in Somaliland?
– We will continue to raise the issue with local authorities. At the same time, Norway is cooperating with the EU and the international Red Cross committee, which is represented in Somaliland, says Søreide.
– The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has worked consularly with this case since The Norwegian was arrested in April, and we have intensified our work since the verdict was handed down on Wednesday. We work through all relevant diplomatic channels, both here in Oslo and at our embassy in Nairobi, says Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide.
“We are relieved”
– We are very relieved and grateful that the Norwegian authorities are doing what they can to stop the execution, says Mustafa Hayd, one of the death row inmates’ seven children in Norway.
– I have not been able to talk directly with dad today, but through his lawyer I understand that dad now looks at it more clearly. He is in a completely terrible and inhuman situation, says his son Mustafa Hayd to Dagbladet.
Ever since he was arrested on the night of April 5 this year in Hargeisa, Somaliland, Saad Jidre has denied criminal guilt. While he has been in custody in a prison for pirates, which the Norwegian authorities have helped to finance, he has also been tried poisoned with snake venom.
– We are very pleased that the Norwegian authorities and Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide take this case seriously, says Saad Jidre’s Norwegian development assistance lawyer John Christian Elden.
– We assume that the Norwegian authorities are working too hard to prevent a Norwegian from being executed, the lawyer says.
Together with his colleague Farid Bouras, Elden has in recent days tried to get the authorities in Somaliland to cancel the planned execution of Saad Jidre.