Khartoum court convicts Sudan’s ousted dictator Al Bashir of corruption
Former Sudanese president Omar Al Bashir has been convicted on charges of corruption and currency irregularities, and sentenced to two years in a ‘correctional facility’ designed for older prisoners. The former dictator’s supporters took to the streets as the guilty verdict was pronounced, and the capital is on full alert in anticipation of further unrest.
Al Bashir, dressed in traditional robes, was placed in a security cage during the hearing. In pronouncing his verdict – the charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment – Judge El Sadig Abdelrahman stipulated that Al Bashir’s two-year sentence will commence after a verdict has been reached in another case against him regarding the killing of demonstrators during the protests that led to his removal.
Although Al Bashir admitted to having received $25 million from Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, he had pleaded not guilty to the corruption charges.
Al Bashir, who ruled the country for 30 years and was deposed by a military coup on April 11, is currently being held in Khartoum’s Kober Prison, which became notorious under his regime for holding countless political detainees, many of whom were tortured or worse.
The oused president has also been charged with incitement and involvement in the killing of protesters, and this week he was summoned for questioning over his role in the 1989 military coup that brought him to power.
On Thursday, the second wife of Al Bashir, Widad Babikr, was arrested from her home in Khartoum North, on charges of illegal ownership of wealth and suspicious richness.
A police force took Babikr from her and her husband’s residence in Kafouri in Khartoum North to the prosecution office in Khartoum, where she was questioned about her bank accounts and the possession of residential lands and real estates – which have been frozen by the prosecution.
Since the ousting of her husband on April 11, Babikr has been under house arrest under strict security measures.
Money forfeit to state
Passing sentence, Judge Abdelrahman explained that under Sudanese law, people over 70 may not serve a term in a conventional prison. The Judge also ordered that millions of Euros, Dollars, and billions of Sudanese Pounds found in a search of Al Bashir’s residence after he was deposed, should be forfeited to the state.
The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which was the driving force behind the popular uprising that led to the overthrow of Al Bashir, lauded the verdict, saying it is a “political and moral condemnation” of Al Bashir and his regime. The association pointed out that this is only the first trial that the former dictator will have to face.
The head of Al Bashir’s defence team, Ahmed El Tahir, told reporters that “the judge made the ruling based on political motives,”, and noted his intention to appeal the conviction.
Al Bashir has also been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, which issued arrest warrants against him in 2009 and 2010 on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, however the head of Sudan’s Sovereign Council, Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan, has made it clear that the current government does not intend to transfer ousted President Omar Al Bashir to the ICC.
Since yesterday, the Sudanese capital has seen a heavy security presence with troops and vehicles deployed to block access to the Presidential Palace, the Defence Ministry, and the court.
Listeners told Radio Dabanga that many Land Cruisers and armoured vehicles were stationed in the vicinity of the military headquarter in Khartoum and El Mak Nimir Street. Cameras were installed on squares and intersections, and a number of roads have been blocked.
As the verdict was being read out, some Al Bashir supporters had to be removed from the court after shouting slogans condemning the trial as ‘political’.
Outside, some 3,000 supporters of Al Bashir rallied “to defend Islam and against secularism” in the ‘Green March’ by the supporters of his recently dissolved National Congress Party (NCP).
On Friday, native administration leaders, Sufi groups, and the Popular Congress Party announced that they would not participate in the march. The National Umma Party condemned the rally and described it as “great perjury”.
The resistance committees in the Sudanese capital called to unite and be prepared for the remnants of the defunct regime.
In Khartoum, people demonstrated against the Green March rally on Friday evening. They demanded a speedy implementation of the law regarding the dismantling of the deep state.
Lawyer and the human rights activist Abdelazim Hasan reported that he was attacked by a grandson of Islamist leader Hasan El Turabi, the driving force behind the 1989 military coup led by Al Bashir.
Hasan explained that he was assaulted in El Manshiya Mosque after Friday prayers when he called on the worshipers not to participate in the march on Saturday.
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