After failing to appear in court yesterday for the first session of his trial, the prosecution of ousted Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir – on corruption charges – has been scheduled to commence on August 17.
According to Bashir’s lawyer, Hisham al-Gaaly, authorities were unable to bring him for the session due to security reasons. “Today was the first session of his trial … So the judge informed us that the trial will now start on August 17,” he told AFP on Wednesday.
Al-Bashir’s autocratic 30-year reign came to an end after he was toppled and arrested by the military on April 11. This happened after months of nationwide protests that broke out in December after his government decided to triple the price of bread.
Following his ouster, Bashir was charged with incitement and involvement in the killing of protesters the following month before state prosecutors ordered his interrogation on suspicion of money laundering and financing terrorism.
Then on June 16, a prosecutor read out charges against Al-Bashir in what was his first appearance since he was removed from power. The deposed leader was slammed with charges related to “possessing foreign currency, corruption and receiving gifts illegally.”
Heading the defense team of the former president is Ahmed Ibrahim al-Tahir, who maintained that the trial had no “political background” and was instead an “absolute criminal case with a baseless accusation.”
Al-Tahir stated that one of the charges against al-Bashir was related to about seven million euros ($7.8 million), which were given as a “grant by a donor and was not included in the state budget.”
Moreover, Sudan’s military ruler, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, had in April revealed that over $113 million worth of cash in three currencies had been seized from al-Bashir’s residence. A team of police, army and security agents reportedly found the seven million euros, plus $350,000 and five billion Sudanese pounds ($105 million).
The developments concerning al-Bashir’s prosecution come as the political situation deteriorates in Sudan driven by a power tussle and frequent clashes between civilian protesters and the country’s ruling military council.
The former general is also under indictment by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over alleged war crimes in the country’s western Darfur region and under him, Sudan was included on the list of sponsors of terrorism by the United States.