Khartoum — Former Sudanese dictator Omar Al Bashir, who ruled Sudan for 30 years before being deposed by a military coup d'état on April 11, appeared in a Khartoum court today to answer charges of corruption.
Al Bashir arrived at the Judicial and Legal Science Institute, in a large military convoy, dressed in traditional Sudanese toob dress this morning, and appeared behind a cage. Bashir is charged with "possessing foreign currency, corruption, and receiving gifts illegally".
As reported by Radio Dabanga in April, a substantial amount of cash was seized during a search of Al Bashir's residence in Khartoum. In a statement at the time, the Senior Public Prosecutor Mutasim Mahmoud announced the seizure of $351 million, €6,7 million, £5.2 million, and SDG 5 billion ($105 million*). Some of the cash found was shown to reporters. It had been packed in sacks designed for 50kg of maize meal.
Giving evidence for the prosecution today, a detective testified that during questioning by investigators following his detention, Al Bashir admitted to receiving 'millions of dollars' from Saudi Arabia.
Bringing Al Bashir and members of his regime to justice is high on the agenda in the new political agreement governing Sudan's ruling Transitional Authority that assumed power on Saturday.
Al Bashir himself has not commented on the charges, however his 100-strong team of defence lawyers have dismissed them as 'baseless'.
The trial was initially scheduled to begin in July, but it was delayed due to security concerns.
'More charges to come'
Human rights lawyers say charges for more serious offences will come when the civilian-led government is formed. "It won't only be him, but other big figures of his regime will all face these charges. We are just waiting to have a proper justice minister and a new attorney general," said Abdullah Galley, a member of the Democratic Coalition for Lawyers.
So far, authorities in Sudan have refused to hand Bashir to the international criminal court in The Hague, which has accused him of criminal responsibility for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide following the killing, maiming and torture of hundreds of thousands of people in the region of Darfur.
The UN estimates that 200,000 to 400,000 people died in the conflict, with a further 2.7 million displaced. Militia formed and directed by Bashir are blamed for the worst atrocities.