SUDAN’S former President Omar al-Bashir has been sentenced to two years in detention in a state-run reform centre over financial irregularity and corruption charges in the first of several cases against the leader who was removed after nearly 30 years in power.
A court in the capital Khartoum on Saturday convicted al-Bashir, who was overthrown in April after months of nationwide demonstrations, on charges of illegal possession of foreign currency, illicit financial gains and corruption.
‘The court convicted Omar Hassan al-Bashir,’ judge Al-Sadiq Abdelrahman said. ‘The court decided to send him to a community reform centre for two years.’
The judge said that ‘under the law, those who reached the age of 70 shall not serve jail terms.’
Bashir, 75, 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 removal, the judge said.
Saturday’s case against the 75-year-old centred around suitcases filled with multiple currencies worth more than $130 million which were found in his home.
Dressed in traditional white robes and turban, al-Bashir watched silently from inside a metal defendant’s cage while the judge read out the verdict on Saturday.
Before the verdict was read, supporters of al-Bashir briefly disrupted the proceedings and were pushed out of the courtroom by the security forces.
‘His supporters and his defence team came out in protest,’ Al Jazeera correspondent Hiba Morgan reported. ‘Chaos erupted in the courtroom and outside,’ she added.
‘It is likely that this verdict of two years in a rehabilitation facility and not prison is not going to sit down too well with the protesters, who have been demanding for justice and accountability not just for Omar al-Bashir, but for his ruling party, members of his cabinet and government, some of whom are in the sovereign council right now,’ Morgan said.
The 75-year-old, who was in power for 30 years, was deposed when members of the military arrested him after months of nationwide anti-government protests.
He is currently being held in Kobar prison – where he once sent many of his political opponents and which is a far cry from his luxurious palace.
Several other judicial cases have been launched in Sudan against the former president.
According to his lawyers, al-Bashir was this week summoned to answer questions about the coup that brought him to power in 1989 and the killing of protesters earlier this year.
He is also wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region. It is still unclear whether or not he will be handed over.
Despite the international warrant for his arrest since 2009, al-Bashir managed to travel to several countries in recent years, including Arab and African nations.
The northeast African country of Sudan is currently ruled by a transitional civilian government and is one of the world’s 25 poorest countries.