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Former Sudanese president to face trial for role in 1989 coup

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Former Sudanese president to face trial for role in 1989 coup

Sudan
Photo: Reuters

The trial of former Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir for his role in a 1989 military coup will begin today in Khartoum.

Tuesday’s hearing marks the fifth day of a trial repeatedly adjourned since July 21, due to the defence team’s requests for bail and courtroom social distancing procedures. Al-Bashir governed Sudan from 1989 to April 2019, until widespread public demonstrations led to the Sudanese Armed Forces ousting the authoritarian leader. Al-Bashir was convicted of money laundering and corruption by a Khartoum court in December 2019, and has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in the Darfur region.

With al-Bashir currently serving a two-year corruption sentence, this ongoing trial concerning his participation in the 1989 coup will only extend his imprisonment should he not receive the death penalty—not impossible given his unpopularity and the well-documented crimes of his regime. Sudan’s transitional government has already agreed to cooperate with the ICC, a decision that drew outcry from al-Bashir’s supporters.

Given a recent peace agreement signed between the interim government and anti-Bashir rebels, expect a guilty verdict to strengthen the governing alliance’s public mandate and establish of a hybrid court to try al-Bashir for international crimes.

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