KHARTOUM: Sudan’s former president Omar al-Bashir was sentenced Saturday to two years’ detention in a correctional centre for corruption.
Bashir wasas deposed by the army in April after months of mass protests against his three-decade rule. He appeared in court in a metal cage wearing a traditional white jalabiya and turban for the verdict.
The charges stemmed from millions of dollars received by the toppled strongman from Saudi Arabia. He was convicted of “corruption” and “possession of foreign currency”, judge Al Sadiq Abdelrahman said, charges which can carry a prison sentence of up to ten years.
Instead the court ordered the 75-year-old to serve two years in a correctional centre for the elderly taking into account his age. “Under the law, those who reached the age of 70 shall not serve jail terms,” the judge said.
Bashir 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.
The court also ordered the confiscation of 6.9 million euros, $351,770 and 5.7 million Sudanese pounds found at Bashir’s home. Bashir admitted to having received a total of $90 million from Saudi leaders. The trial centred on the $25 million received from Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Bashir said the money seized from his home came out of the $25 million. He said the funds formed part of Sudan’s strategic relations with Saudi Arabia and were “not used for private interests but as donations”.
Bashir’s lawyer Mohamed al-Hassan had said before the verdict that the ex-president’s defence did not see the trial as a legal case, but as a “political” one, adding that they will appeal the case.
The trial does not relate to charges Bashir faces at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Bashir has been wanted by the ICC for years for his role in the Darfur war that broke out in 2003, when rebels took up arms against his government accused of marginalising the region. The Darfur conflict left around 300,000 people dead and 2.5 million displaced, according to the United Nations.
After Bashir was toppled, ICC prosecutors requested he stand trial for the killings in Darfur. However, army generals who initially seized power after the president’s fall refused to hand him over.
Sudan’s umbrella protest movement recently said it has no objection to his extradition. On November 12, Sudanese authorities filed charges against Bashir and some of his aides for plotting the 1989 coup that brought him to power.
In May, Sudan’s attorney general said Bashir had been charged with the deaths of those killed during the anti-regime demonstrations that led to his ouster, without specifying when he would face trial. Sudan is now ruled by a joint civilian and military sovereign council tasked with overseeing a transition to civilian rule.