In what has been hailed as an historic moment in Sudanese history and ‘the beginning of a state of law’, deposed former president Omar Al Bashir and 27 former officials went on trial today for their alleged part in the 1989 military coup that brought the Al Bashir regime to power.
Al Bashir and his co-accused, including former vice presidents Ali Osman Taha and Bakri Hasan Saleh, appeared in a caged-off area of specially-prepared courtroom in Khartoum today amid high security. The charges they face potentially carry the death penalty.
Today’s opening session was presided over by a tribunal of three judges, led by Justice Esameldin Ibrahim, who underlined that each of the 28 accused will be heard and will have the opportunity to defend themselves.
No statements were made or evidence led today, as Justice Ibrahim adjourned the proceedings until August 11 to allow defendants access to lawyers and family, and for a review of the requirements of the venue –which was crowded today– to allow more lawyers and family to attend while observing precautionary Covid-19 social distancing.
Lawyer Muawya Khidir of the Prosecution Board said that holding the first session of this historic trial is “the beginning of a state of law, institutions, and justice in the country”.
He underlined that the trial of members of the deposed regime “affirms the start of the implementation of the motto of the revolution. Today, the doors of justice are widely opened to try those who undermined the constitution and democracy.”
Speaking via the official Sudan News Agency (SUNA), Khidir explained that the defendants face charges of undermining the constitutional order, under Article 96 of the Sudanese Criminal Law of 1983, and participation in a criminal act, under Article 78 of the same law,
Khidir chanted “Freedom, Peace and Justice” as the defendants left the courtroom, which was considered a provocation by the supporters of the deposed regime, SUNA reports.
Ustaz El Amin who represents the defence, stated in a press statement that the facts under which the accused are tried should be dropped as they are more than 10 years old.
Ousted President Omar Al Bashir, who ruled the country for 30 years and was deposed by a military coup on April 11, 2019, was convicted on charges of corruption and currency irregularities in December 2019. He was sentenced to two years in a ‘correctional facility’ designed for older prisoners.
Al Bashir has also been charged with incitement and involvement in the killing of demonstrators during the protests that led to his removal from power. In December he was questioned about his role in the 1989 coup that brought him to power.
El Obeid massacre trial begins
The trial of the alleged perpetrators of the El Obeid massacre during which members of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) are accused of opening fire on a spontaneous demonstration of school students in the North Kordofan capital of El Obeid on July 29 last year, started in the El Obeid Legislative Council Hall on Monday amid tightened security measures.
The was court chaired by Ahmed Hasan, Judge of the Appeal Court, and attended by a big number of judges, lawyers, families of the victims and members of Resistance Committees active in the neighourhoods of El Obeid. There was a wide presence of demonstrators outside the court, SUNA reported.
Justice Hasan apologised for the delay in the trial procedures due to the coronavirus pandemic, stressing that the trial sessions will be continued for two days a week, on Monday and Thursday.
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