- Bashir, 75, is being sent to the reform facility, rather than a prison on account of his age.
- The former president, who ruled for three decades, pleaded not guilty to the charges despite admitting that he had received $25 million from Saudi Arabia’s crown prince.
- Pro-democracy campaigners immediately criticized the sentence for being too lenient.
The former president of Sudan, Omar al- Bashir, has been sentenced to two year detention in a state-run reform facility over corruption and financial irregularity charges. “The convict, Omar al-Bashir, is consigned to a social reform facility for a period of two years . . .The sums of foreign and national currencies that were seized are confiscated,” said the presiding judge, Al-Sadiq Abdelrahman.
The sentence was passed in a court in Khartoum, and the judge said that Bashir, 75, was being sent to the reform facility, rather than a prison on account of his age. The judge added that Bashir will serve his sentence after the verdict had been reached in another case in which he is accused of ordering the killing of demonstrators during the protest that led to his removal.
The former president, who ruled for three decades, pleaded not guilty to the charges despite admitting that he had received $25 million from Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. Bashir claimed that the payments were made as part of Sudan’s strategic relationship with Saudi Arabia, and were used as donations, not for personal gains. This revelation of support from Saudi has reinforced fears that Gulf States have been seeking to advance their interests through secret dealings with rulers and key power brokers.
Bashir, dressed in white robes and a turban, watched silently from the inside of a metal defendant’s cage while the judge read out the verdict. The former president has been in Kobar prison in Khartoum since he was forced from power in April, when the security forces withdrew their support for his repressive regime after months of protests.
Hundreds of the ex-president’s supporters gathered in the streets near the presidential palace in the capital, Khartoum, ahead of Saturday’s verdict. Troops and military vehicles were deployed in the area blocking access to the palace, and the Defense Ministry, and there was also heavy security presence in the court. Some supporters disrupted the court proceedings briefly before the verdict was read and they were forced out of the courtroom by security forces.
Pro-democracy campaigners immediately criticized the sentence for being too lenient, adding that they will be planning for protests soon. Few people in Sudan had expected to see Bashir appear before the judges and were optimistic that the case will be thrown out. According to his legal team, which included almost 100 lawyers, in the course of the week Bashir was summoned to answer questions concerning the coup that brought him to power in in 1989 and the killing of protesters early this year.
The Sudanese authorities have refused to hand Bashir to the International Criminal Court in The Hague (ICC), which has accused him of criminal responsibility for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide following the killing, maiming and torture of thousands of people in Darfur. The ICC has issued arrest warrants against him in 2009 and 2010
United Nations (UN) estimates that around 400,000 people have died in the conflict and 2.7 million were displaced. Militia formed and directed by Bashir are blamed for the worst atrocities in the country. The country is currently ruled by a government and an eleven member sovereign council that includes pro-democracy campaigners and senior soldiers.