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Sudan: Omar Al-Bashir Trial Postponed for a Week

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A special court in Khartoum has postponed the trial of ousted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and a number of officials from his regime by a week.

The court said it was doing so after defence attorneys raised questions about the suitability of the court in the pandemic season.

Mohammad Al-Hassan Al-Amin, a member of the defence, said the team had concerns about health conditions of the courtroom.

“The court convened in this way without social distancing, without the precautions that must be taken that harms the accused, the court itself and the police forces in it, so this is a major objection,” he said.

The defence team also objected to the decision of the Empowerment Removal Committee which dismissed a number of court judges because of their ties to the previous regime.

Mr Al-Amin said in a press statement that dismissal of 152 judges by the Empowerment Committee, which is a political team that adjudicates the civil service, the Attorney General and the Ministry of Justice, does not leave the judiciary free to make decisions.

In May 2019, the transitional government filed a case against Mr Bashir and his government, and later in March the Attorney General formed a commission to investigate the 1989 coup.

Mr Bashir and his top security agents were directly singled out for subverting the Constitution.

Among the most prominent of the defendants in the case are the two deputies of al-Bashir, Ali Othman Taha and Bakri Hassan Saleh, in addition to soldiers and civilians who held ministerial positions and governors of states during the era of the former president.

Coups

Bashir’s coup was the third since the independence of Sudan in 1956, after two coups by Ibrahim Abbud (1959-1964) and Jaafar Nimeiry (1969-1985).

Bashir seized power from an elected government headed by Sadiq al-Mahdi, leader of the Umma Party, the most prominent of the Sudanese parties.

Bashir is also wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of committing genocide, ethnic cleansing and other crimes against humanity during the conflict in the western Darfur region which lasted between 1959 and 2004 and caused 300,000 deaths and millions of displaced people.

Last December, he was convicted of corruption in one of the cases against him, and a two-year reservation was issued against him in a social reform house.

Bashir faces charges related to undermining the constitutional order and carrying out the coup in 1989 under Article 96 of the Penal Code, which carries the death penalty.

He stayed in power for 30 years before being overthrown on April 11, 2019 after several months of unprecedented, youth-led street demonstrations.

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