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Sudan's Bashir sentenced to two years house arrest for corruption involving foreign funds

Bashir was ousted in April after mass protests [Getty]

Date of publication: 14 December, 2019

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Bashir, who was overthrown by the army in April, has been on trial in a Khartoum court since August on charges of illegally acquiring and using foreign funds.
A Sudanese court convicted deposed president Omar al-Bashir of graft on Saturday and sentenced him to two years' house arrest in a social care facility. 

"The court convicted Omar Hassan Ahmed al- Bashir," judge Al-Sadiq Abdelrahman said. "The court decided to send him to a community reform centre for two years."

The judge said that "under the law, those who reached the age of 70 shall not serve jail terms".

Bashir, 75, will serve his sentence after the verdict has been reached in another case in which he is accused of ordering the killing of demonstrators during the protests that led to his ouster, the judge said. 

Bashir, who was overthrown by the army in April, has been on trial in a Khartoum court since August on charges of illegally acquiring and using foreign funds.

Authorities seized 6.9 million euros, $351,770 and 5.7 million Sudanese pounds ($128,000) from Bashir's home, Abdelrahman said at the start of the trial in August.

Bashir said at the time that the funds were the remainder of $25 million received from Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

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

Several defence witnesses testified in court, some backing up Bashir's account. 

Against the backdrop of trial in Khartoum, calls have grown from global rights groups, activists and victims of the war in Darfur to transfer Bashir to The Hague-based International Criminal Court.

'No, No to ICC'

Bashir is wanted by the ICC for his alleged role in the Darfur war that broke out in 2003 as ethnic African rebels took up arms against Bashir's then Arab-dominated government, accusing it of marginalising the region economically and politically.

Read more: Arab Monetary Fund to give $305 million loan to cash-strapped Sudan

Khartoum applied what rights groups say was a scorched earth policy against ethnic groups suspected of supporting the rebels - raping, killing, looting and burning villages. 

[Click to enlarge]

The ICC has accused Bashir of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in the vast western region of Darfur. He denies the charges.

About 300,000 people were killed and 2.5 million displaced in the conflict, according to the United Nations.

Dozens of Bashir's supporters carrying his portraits have held protests outside the court, vowing to oppose any move by Sudan's new authorities to hand him over to the ICC.

"We are with you. We will never betray you. No, no to ICC," chanted the crowd as the former president was brought to the courthouse for the hearing.

"President Bashir represents the whole of Sudan. We have an independent judiciary and if any trials are to be held, they must be held here," said demonstrator Mohamed Ali Daklai.

"We reject any outside or foreign tribunal. ICC is anyway a political court used by Western countries to pressure the weak."

Bashir was ousted following nationwide protests against his iron-fisted rule of three decades.

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

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