Thursday 19 September 2019

Sudan's ex-leader got millions from Saudis, court told

Caged: Sudan's deposed leader Omar Hassan al-Bashir in traditional dress in a cage in court in Khartoum yesterday. Photo: Ebrahim HAMID / AFP
Caged: Sudan's deposed leader Omar Hassan al-Bashir in traditional dress in a cage in court in Khartoum yesterday. Photo: Ebrahim HAMID / AFP

Khalid Abdelaziz

Sudan's deposed leader Omar Hassan al-Bashir told investigators he had received millions of dollars from Saudi Arabia, a detective said in court yesterday.

Mr Bashir, who was ousted and detained in April, is facing charges of illicit possession of foreign currency and accepting gifts in an unofficial manner.

The detective told the court Mr Bashir had made the statement about the money as he was questioned by investigators after his detention.

Mr Bashir - who was in a cage in the courtroom, dressed in traditional white robes and a turban - listened to the testimony but did not comment.

The next session of the trial is scheduled for Saturday.

The ousted president arrived amid heavy security at the courthouse in the capital Khartoum where he is facing corruption charges, a witness said.

He is charged with illicit possession of foreign currency and accepting gifts in an unofficial manner, prosecutor Alaa al-Din Abdallah said in June.

His trial will be a test of how serious authorities are about trying to erase the legacy of his autocratic 30-year rule, marked by widespread violence, economic collapse and the secession of South Sudan.

Bashir was also charged in May with incitement and involvement in the killing of protesters, and prosecutors also want him questioned over suspected money laundering and terrorism financing.

On Saturday, Sudan's ruling military council, which took over after Mr Bashir was ousted in April, signed a power-sharing agreement with the main opposition coalition, paving the way for a transitional government and eventual elections. It sets up a sovereign council as the highest authority in the country, but largely delegates executive powers to the cabinet of ministers.

The sovereign council was due to be sworn in yesterday. But the spokesman for the Transitional Military Council, Lieutenant General Shams El Din Kabbashi, said the formation of the new ruling body would be delayed by 48 hours on the request of the opposition coalition.

That coalition - the Forces of Freedom and Change - had chosen Aisha Mousa, Siddig Tower, Mohamed Elfaki Suleiman, Hassan Sheikh Idris and Taha Othman Ishaq as its representatives on the council, a coalition source said on Sunday.

But the Sudanese Professionals Association, the main protest organiser and one of the most prominent coalition members, said yesterday that Ishaq had declined to take up his post.

According to the power-sharing deal, the opposition coalition is allowed to choose five members and the military another five, with the two sides jointly choosing a civilian as an 11th member.

On Saturday Mr Kabbashi told Sky News Arabia that military council head Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, his deputy General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo and Lieutenant General Yasser Al-Atta will serve as three of the five military members.

The military council has yet to announce the other two members, but Mr Kabbashi said yesterday that the eleventh member had been agreed by both sides.

Stability in Sudan, which has been grappling with an economic crisis, is seen as crucial for a volatile region struggling with conflict and insurgencies from the Horn of Africa to Egypt and Libya.

Irish Independent

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