Sudan’s former dictator Omar al-Bashir on trial for 1989 coup


Sudan’s ousted autocratic leader Omar al-Bashir, who has already been convicted for corruption, faces a new trial on Tuesday over the military coup that brought him to power more than three decades ago.

Bashir, 76, could face the death penalty if convicted over his 1989 coup against the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Sadek al-Mahdi.

More than 20 former officials are on trial alongside him including former vice presidents Ali Osman Taha and Bakri Hassan Saleh. All were in a caged off area in the courtroom.

Bashir is also wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged war crimes and genocide in the western Darfur region.

The authorities in Sudan said in February they were are ready to hand the former leader over to the ICC.

Bashir was forced from power in 2019 following popular civilian uprising that started in late 2018 as anti-austerity demonstrations but quickly morphed into a call to end the president’s rule.

On April 11, 2019, the military announced that he had been ousted and arrested and a joint transitional government made up of the top army officials and civilians was later formed in August.

Tuesday’s hearing was adjourned until Aug. 11 before witnesses were called, in order to accommodate the suspects, their lawyers, and family members of defendants in a larger courtroom.

“This court will listen to each of them and we will give each of the 28 accused the opportunity to defend themselves,” court president Issam al-Din Mohammad Ibrahim said.

The former president has been jailed in Khartoum since his removal. He also faces charges of undermining the constitution and violating the Armed Forces Act, in addition to fomenting the 1989 coup that brought him to power.

Bashir seized power in a military coup on June 30 against the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Sadek al-Mahdi.

Along with other officials who served in his government Bashir is accused of having plotted the coup in which the army arrested Sudan’s political leaders, suspended parliament, closed the airport and announced the overthrow on the radio. (Source: BBC)