Signs of hope as al-Bashir is formally indicted
Publish date: 05 September 2019
Issue Number: 676
Diary: Legalbrief Forensic
It’s been another eventful week for Sudan which has lurched away from a full-blown civil war and witnessed former President Omar al-Bashir being formally indicted on charges of possessing illicit foreign currency and corruption. Legalbrief reports that it’s a scenario that few would have called a year ago when the International Criminal Court fugitive was still able to keep the lid on mounting public anger. On Saturday, al-Bashir admitted he received $25m from Saudi Arabia's powerful crown prince but he denies he used it for his benefit. A report on the eNCA site notes that he was charged with the possession of illicit foreign currency, as well as corruption. A lawyer representing al-Bashir said his client denied the charges and defence witnesses would be presented at the next hearing. The New York Times reports that the deposed leader has yet to face charges relating to the killing of protesters during the popular uprising that led to his military ouster after three decades in power. The military and civilian leaders last month signed a power-sharing deal to jointly run the country for three years until elections could be held. Legalbrief reports that al-Bashir’s bail application was rejected and the judge said a decision on the duration of his detention would be taken at the next hearing on Saturday.
The optics of al-Bashir's trial are 'exceedingly important', according to William Lawrence, a professor of political science at George Washington University. 'Certainly both sides will want to demonstrate that there is a growing rule of law, a justice system that can function,' Lawrence is quoted as saying by Al Jazeera. However, the transparency may have limits as the proceedings continue, he added, as there are 'officials who are very corrupt who are being protected by the current military authorities'. 'It will be interesting to see whether they try to limit going forward what comes out of the trial to protect people still holding positions of confidence,' Lawrence said.