In Sudan, the attorneys for former president Omar al-Bashir have argued that the deposed leader, imprisoned in Khartoum since his April arrest, should be released on bail.
Al-Bashir appeared in court Saturday for the second hearing of his trial. He is charged with corruption and money laundering, after Sudanese authorities accused him of receiving US$90 million from Saudi Arabia they say he has admitted to accepting. At least $113 million was found stashed in al-Bashir’s home when it was raided in April, Sudanese officials said.
The next scheduled hearing in the case is set for August 31, according to an Al Jazeera report.
Al-Bashir’s trial comes as Sudan moves forward with a new government based on a deal to share power between military and civilian authorities, with a transition to civilian rule across a 39-month timeline.
It also has meant that al-Bashir, long wanted by the International Criminal Court at The Hague, has so far avoided the consequences of years of alleged human rights violations during his tenure, which began in 1993.
Al-Bashir is facing charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes based on attacks against civilians in Darfur dating back to 2002. The ICC investigation was opened in 2005.
The new Sudanese landscape has raised concern among human rights advocates who fear that regime change and al-Bashir’s current domestic trial overshadow the calls to hold him accountable, and that highly placed allies may manipulate the legal process to his advantage.
“Sudan’s new leadership can demonstrate a commitment to respect for the rule of law and human rights by ensuring that al-Bashir is surrendered to the ICC,” said Human Rights Watch on Friday.
“Sudanese authorities have an obligation to surrender al-Bashir to the ICC.”
Image: SUNA file