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14.12.2019 Sudan

Sudan's Bashir awaits his fate in corruption trial

By AFP
Sudan's ex-president Omar al-Bashir appears during an August court appearance in his trial on charges of illegally acquiring and using foreign funds.  By Ebrahim HAMID (AFP/File)
LISTEN DEC 14, 2019
Sudan's ex-president Omar al-Bashir appears during an August court appearance in his trial on charges of illegally acquiring and using foreign funds. By Ebrahim HAMID (AFP/File)

A verdict in the corruption trial of Sudan's ex-president Omar al-Bashir is expected Saturday, eight months after the military deposed the strongman during unprecedented mass protests against his three-decade rule.

Bashir is charged with illegally acquiring and using foreign funds.

If found guilty, he could be sent to prison for up to 10 years.

The Khartoum court is expected to hand down its verdict at 10:00 am (0800 GMT).

Bashir was toppled by the army on April 11 after months of mass demonstrations triggered by an acute economic crisis.

He has attended several hearings since the trial began in August, appearing in a metal cage wearing the traditional Sudanese white jalabiya and turban.

At the start of the trial, judge Sadeq Abdelrahman said authorities had seized 6.9 million euros as well as $351,770 and 5.7 million Sudanese pounds ($128,000) from Bashir's home.

While the former president admitted to having received a total of $90 million from Saudi leaders, the trial centres on the $25 million received from Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Bashir said the money seized from his home came out of the $25 million.

The funds, he said, formed part of Sudan's strategic relations with Saudi Arabia and were "not used for private interests but as donations".

Bashir's lawyer Mohamed al-Hassan told reporters the ex-president's defence does not see the trial as a legal case, but as "a political" one.

The trial does not relate to charges Bashir faces at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Bashir has been wanted by the ICC for years for his role in the Darfur war that broke out in 2003, when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against his Arab-dominated government which they accused of marginalising the region.

Rights groups say Khartoum applied targeted suspected pro-rebel ethnic groups with a scorched earth policy, raping, killing, looting and burning villages.

The Darfur conflict left around 300,000 people dead and 2.5 million displaced, according to the UN.

After Bashir was toppled, ICC prosecutors requested he stand trial for the killings in Darfur.

Army generals who initially seized power after the president's fall refused to hand over the 75-year-old.

But Sudan's umbrella protest movement, which now has significant representation on a sovereign council that in August became the country's highest executive authority -- recently said it has no objection to his extradition.

Separately, on November 12, Sudanese authorities filed charges against Bashir and some of his aides for "plotting" the 1989 coup that brought him to power.

In May, Sudan's attorney general said Bashir had been charged with the deaths of those killed during the anti-regime demonstrations that led to his ouster, without specifying when he would face trial.

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