Sudan’s Omar Bashir’s trial adjourned to Sept. 15

Sudan’s Omar Bashir’s trial adjourned to Sept. 15
Sudanese chant slogans outside the court during the new trial against ousted President Omar Bashir on charges of leading the 1989 military coup. (Reuters)
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Updated 02 September 2020

Sudan’s Omar Bashir’s trial adjourned to Sept. 15

Sudan’s Omar Bashir’s trial adjourned to Sept. 15
  • Broadcast on Sudan state TV, the hearing was held amid tight security

KHARTOUM: Sudan’s trial of ousted President Omar Bashir over the 1989 coup that brought him to power was adjourned Tuesday to Sept. 15, the presiding judge said.

The session, which was broadcast on Sudan TV, was held amid tight security as Bashir, 76, and other co-accused regime figures stood behind bars in the courtroom.

After procedural questions and debate about coronavirus precautions in the courtroom, the presiding judge declared the hearing was “adjourned to September 15.”

Giving his profession as “former president of the republic,” Bashir seemed in good physical condition as he appeared in a metal courtroom cage wearing white prison-issue clothes and a medical face mask that he lowered to identify himself.

In footage carried by Sudanese state TV he said he was resident in Khartoum’s Kober Prison, 76 years old, and had two wives.

Some of Bashir’s former associates appeared alongside him at the trial, which had been postponed because of overcrowding at the scheduled opening last month.

Military officers ousted Bashir in April 2019 after months of street protests, leading to a power-sharing agreement between the military and civilian groups.

Bashir is separately facing prosecution over his alleged role in the repression of protests against his rule, and in December was sentenced at another trial to 2 years in prison on corruption charges.

He is also wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of alleged genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

Tuesday’s court hearing came a day after Sudan’s transitional leadership signed a peace deal with some of the rebel groups that had battled Bashir’s military and allied militias in Darfur.

Three major groups signed the deal, including factions from Darfur where more than 300,000 people are estimated to have been killed and 2.5 million displaced since 2003, and one from southern regions which say they were also marginalized.

But two factions with the biggest presence on the ground in Darfur and the south did not sign, and the cash-strapped transitional government will struggle to pay for the return of millions of displaced people and regional development promised in the deal.

“The main challenge facing us now is the implementation of the peace agreement, and finding donations to do that,” Jibril Ibrahim, leader of Darfur’s Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), said after he and the other rebel leaders signed the agreement.

Sudan has been riven by regional conflicts for decades. After the oil-rich south became independent in 2011, a gradual economic decline fueled the protests which pushed Bashir from power last year.

Civilian and military leaders who have shared power since then say ending internal conflicts is a top priority in the path to democracy for the once-pariah state. Analysts said Monday’s deal, signed in the South Sudanese capital Juba, was very important but left big gaps.