Sudan: Former President al-Bashir denied bail in corruption trial

 

Toppled 75-year-old leader is charged with possessing illicit foreign currency and unauthorised use of foreign funds.

Former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has been denied bail by a court in capital Khartoum in a corruption trial that began after he was removed from power earlier this year, officials said on Saturday.

Al-Bashir, who ruled Sudan for nearly 30 years, is charged with illicit financial gains, bribery and accepting gifts in an unofficial manner, including $90m in cash from Saudi royals.

Last week, speaking publicly for the first time since his removal, al-Bashir said he received $25m from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, but claimed he did not use the money for his own benefit.

Investigators said they found more than $130m when they raided al-Bashir’s house after the military removed him from power in April.

The charges against the 75-year-old former president carry maximum prison sentences of about 10 years. The next hearing is set for September 14.

Key to room with millions

In his fourth court hearing on Saturday, al-Bashir’s office manager testified that the former Sudanese leader was the only person with a key to a room at the presidential palace holding millions of euros.

Yasser Basheer, speaking as a defence witness, said the former president gave him more than 10 million euros ($11m) cash in his final months of rule for delivery to different parties.

The former manager, who worked for al-Bashir from September 2018, said the then-president once gave him 5 million euros ($5.6m) for Abdelrahim Hamdan Dagalo, the deputy head of the feared paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

The money, Basheer said, was delivered in the presence of Abdelrahim’s brother and RSF head Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemeti, who was also the deputy head of the Transitional Military Council (TMC) that ruled after al-Bashir’s removal.

Hemeti is now a member of the Sovereign Council formed in a military-civilian power-sharing deal.

Basheer said the other recipients of cash included officers in the Defence Ministry and civilians for medical treatment, adding that he did not know the source of the cash and was only following orders.

While al-Bashir did not speak at Saturday’s hearing, he denied the charges when he spoke last week.

Reporting from Khartoum, Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan said al-Bashir’s team of nearly 130 lawyers argues that the money “was given to him as a person and not as president”.

The lawyers, according to Morgan, told the court that all the financial dealings by al-Bashir, “every single money he gave away, was documented and there are documents to prove that”.

‘Sham trial’

While al-Bashir’s trial has captured worldwide attention, Morgan said many Sudanese called it a “sham trial” since it did not include the atrocities during the 30 years of his rule.

Morgan said protesters on the streets said the trial was being used to “divert attention from the real crimes committed” by al-Bashir’s government.

Al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged atrocities in the Darfur region more than a decade ago, in a war that killed an estimated 300,000 people and forced 2.7 million from their homes. 

The conflict broke out in 2003 when ethnic minority groups took up arms against al-Bashir’s Arab-dominated government, accusing it of discrimination and neglect.

The ICC in The Hague issued arrest warrants against him in 2009 and 2010 on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Darfur.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

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