Authorities file new charge against Sudan anti-corruption committee leader

The defence team of lawyer Wajdi Saleh, leading member of the Socialist Arabic Ba’ath Party Sudan and former head of the now dissolved Empowerment Removal Committee, announced on Tuesday that he would be released on bail, before he was detained again due to another complaint.

Image of lawyer and activist Wajdi Saleh (social media)

The defence team of lawyer Wajdi Saleh, leading member of the Socialist Arabic Ba’ath Party Sudan and former head of the now dissolved Empowerment Removal Committee (ERC), announced on Tuesday that he would be released on bail, before he was detained again due to another complaint. 

It was agreed that Saleh would be released according to “normal guarantees” regarding the official complaint lodged by the Ministry of Finance, yet he was detained again according to another complaint filed by the same authority yesterday, defence lawyer Mahmoud El Shazli told reporters in Khartoum. 

El Shazli explained that the new complaint was lodged by the Ministry of Finance on October 27 under Articles 13 and 14 of the June 30 Empowerment Removal Bill related to Saleh’s statements about the ministry’s squandering of public funds. According to El Shazli, the Empowerment Removal Bill does not apply to Saleh’s remarks because he referred to actions that took place between April 11 and June 30. 

Series of complaints 

Since Saleh, who is also a leading member of the mainstream Forces for Freedom and Change, began his work as chair of the ERC, his popularity among pro-democracy groups grew. After the October 2021 coup, he became a symbol of the opponents of the military junta and the followers of ousted President Omar Al Bashir. 

On September 30, Saleh handed himself over to authorities in Khartoum, following orders from Sudan’s Public Prosecution Office declaring him a fugitive. In a video posted on Saleh’s Facebook page, he denied any attempts to flee from the prosecutors, stating that his “phone was constantly on” and that he was “present on the streets and public seminars”. 

Saleh refused to answer questions posed by the prosecutor, until his immunity is officially lifted. It is his legal right as a lawyer to refuse questioning under the Law of Advocacy that stipulates prior permission from the Sudanese Bar Association for his questioning. 

“Saleh expects that the series of malicious political and illegal complaints against him will not end,” El Shazli said. 

Lawyer Moez Hazrat said that the actions taken by the Public Prosecution Office were an “exploitation of the prosecution to settle political scores”. 

Letter from Saleh 

Saleh has been detention incommunicado since he handed himself over to authorities. In a letter written from his prison cell and published yesterday, Saleh explained that he refused to be questioned so that these legal violations will not be repeated or affect other lawyers in the country. 

He said he would sue all who have accused him of not adhering to the law.  

He further stressed the importance of the unity of the revolutionary forces, and called on them to escalate their civil disobedience actions and political strikes in order to reach their aims and overthrow the military junta. 

His wife, Jihan Abdelwahab, told the press that he is patient and “his spirits are high. Wajdi is ready for more complaints and any trial, and he will observe the legal procedures.” She said the complaints were filed because her husband spoke out against the proposed settlement with the military.