Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir convicted of corruption


Omar al-Bashir, president of Sudan for 30 years until he was ousted in April following a mass uprising, was on Saturday sentenced to two years in a reform centre after being found guilty of corruption.

The man whose word ruled over the vast north-east African nation for three decades listened from inside a metal defendant’s cage as a judge read out the verdict, which related to $130m found stuffed in suitcases in various currencies in his private residence.

In court he had claimed that some of the money was a donation from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as part of Sudan’s strategic relationship with the kingdom and was not for his private use.

Mr Bashir, 75, still faces charges related to the 1989 coup that brought him to power and to the killing of protesters whose nationwide uprising sparked by high bread prices persuaded the military that Mr Bashir had to go. That protest, in which the slogan “fall, that is all” spread like wildfire around Sudan’s cities, morphed into a much broader movement against his government’s repressive Islamist regime. Last week, the transitional council that replaced him banned Mr Bashir’s National Congress party and repealed public order laws that dictated how women dressed and behaved in public.

The generals who ousted him have resisted calls from the International Criminal Court that Mr Bashir face war crimes charges in The Hague for his alleged role in the killing of some 300,000 civilians in Darfur, in western Sudan. But the civilians who now share power with the military as part of a three-year transitional arrangement have said they are open to Mr Bashir facing trial at the ICC.

Under Mr Bashir, Sudan’s economy slowly deteriorated as more and more was spent on the military and as US-led sanctions bit. Washington fell out with Mr Bashir after he was accused of harbouring Osama bin Laden and of committing genocide in Darfur.

Mr Bashir also presided over the break-up of his country in 2011 after agreeing to a referendum on self-determination for predominantly Christian South Sudan after years of civil war.

Mr Bashir will serve his two-year sentence in a state-run reform centre since, the judge said, Sudan did not jail people over 70. His lawyers said they would appeal against the verdict, calling the trial political.

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