Former Sudan strongman Bashir’s trial a test for democracy- reports

Sudan’s former President Omar Al- Bashir appeared in public for the first time on Sunday since the military overthrew and detained him in April after 16 weeks of widespread protests against his rule.

Prosecutor Alaa al-Din Abdallah told media that Bashir was charged with illicit possession of foreign currency, accepting gifts in an unofficial manner, killing of protestors and ordering a state of emergency.

An armed convoy escorted Bashir from the Kober prison to the prosecutor’s office in North Khartoum with media reporting that the former president appeared in good health.

Reuters commented that his trial will show the seriousness of the country’s transitional military council and whether generals will remove the legacy of Bashir’s autocratic 30-year rule or not.

Sudan’s chief prosecutor said on Saturday that 41 former officials from Bashir’s administration were being investigated for suspected graft, Reuters reported.

Sudan fell into a political crisis as the transitional military council, a coalition of protesters and opposition parties couldn’t find a solution for a civilian transition. Many protestors lost their lives since  Bashir’s removal.

Security forces stormed a protest camp in Khartoum on June 3, opening fire on pro-democracy protesters leading to a collapse in a power-sharing deal. Protesters told journalists that 128 people were killed, however, the health ministry announced the death toll as 61.

“We are working hard to take those who did this to the gallows,” Lt Gen Mohamed Dagalo, deputy chairman of the Transitional Military Council that took charge after the military toppled Al Bashir, said in a speech broadcast live on state television.

After Bashir was toppled, a team of police, army and security agents raided his house and allegedly found  $113 million worth of cash in three currencies (seven million euros, $350,000 and five billion Sudanese pounds).

Bashir, 75, swept to power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989 and toppled in April, is also wanted by the International Criminal Court over charges of war crimes and genocide linked to the Darfur conflict in the 2000s, but the military says it would not extradite him to The Hague.

During Bashir’s 30 year reign, Sudan suffered high rates of corruption, ranking 172 out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index.

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