Sudan court accepts corruption charges against al-Bashir

Omar al-Bashir

A Sudanese court said Saturday it accepted prosecutors’ corruption-related charges against autocratic former president Omar al-Bashir, who appeared in court in a cage for the third time this month.

Al-Bashir has been in custody since being ousted by the military in April after months of mass protests against his three-decade authoritarian rule. The court was set to meet again in a week.

The court said following a statement from al-Bashir and testimony from other witnesses, that it accepted prosecutors’ request to try the former ruler on charges of illegal possession of foreign currency.

Al-Bashir was accused of money laundering after millions of U.S. dollars, euros and Sudanese pounds were seized in his home shortly after his ouster.

During Saturday’s hearing, the former president said he received through his office manager $25 million from Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

“My office manager … had received a call from Prince Mohammed bin Salman saying that he has a ‘message’ that will be sent in a private jet,” he said.

Al-Bashir said the crown prince did not want to reveal that he was the source of the funds, and he hoped that the trial wouldn’t be public.

“If we deposited the money in the central bank of the finance ministry, the source would have been identified,” he told the court.

He said the money was being used for donations not for his own benefit. At least $2 million dollars went to a military hospital and $3 million to a Sudanese university, he said.

Al-Bashir said $5 million was given to the Rapid Support Forces, a paramilitary unit that grew out of the feared Janjaweed militias unleashed during the Darfur conflict in the 2000s.

The RSF is led by Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, who is also a member of the newly appointed Sovereign Council that is to rule Sudan during a three-year transition.

Protesters accuse the RSF of leading the crackdown against them that started with the brutal break-up of their sit-in camp in Khartoum earlier in June.

Al-Bashir did not provide documents or records for the spending.

The court also rejected a request from al-Bashir’s defense attorneys for his release on bail.