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Bashir’s trial postponed in Sudan at request of defence lawyer

Sudan's ousted President Omar Al-Bashir sits in a defendant's cage during his trial of illegal acquisition and use of foreign funds in Khartoum, Sudan on 31 August 2019 [Mahmoud Hjaj/Anadolu Agency]
Sudan's ousted President Omar Al-Bashir sits in a defendant's cage during his trial of illegal acquisition and use of foreign funds in Khartoum, Sudan on 31 August 2019 [Mahmoud Hjaj/Anadolu Agency]

The trial of former Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir and 27 others charged with carrying out a coup d’état against the elected government in 1989 has been postponed after lawyers representing three of the defendants applied for bail to the Court of Appeal.

“The hearing was supposed to take place on Tuesday 11 August,” explained Al-Moez Hadhra, the lawyer who filed the lawsuit against Bashir and the others, “but is adjourned until the Court of Appeal considers the request of the defendants’ lawyers, Ali Haj Mohammad Ibrahim Al-Sanusi and Omar Abdel-Maarouf, to release them on bail.” The Court of First Instance rejected their request.

According to Hadhra, the new date will be set after the Court of Appeal considers the lawyers’ request for the three defendants in question, who are prominent leaders of the Popular Congress Party. The party was headed by Hassan Al-Turabi, who died in 2016. It was established in 1999 after several disputes between Turabi and Bashir.

The trial was initially opened and adjourned on 21 July by Judge Essam Mohamed Ibrahim. “We have twenty-eight defendants,” he said. “This court will give everyone the opportunity to present their arguments and plead their case, and it will be held with equal space for everyone. This courtroom cannot accommodate all 199 defence lawyers so we will postpone it in order to make better arrangements.”

READ: Sudan deploys security forces after 120 dead, injured in attack in Darfur

The trial is unique in the Arab world, as no successful coup perpetrator in recent history has been brought to trial. If Bashir is found guilty, he could face the death penalty.

The army toppled Omar Al-Bashir on 11 April 2019, after months of popular demonstrations calling for his resignation. He was then arrested. He is the first Sudanese president to come to power in a military coup to be on trial since Sudan’s independence in 1956. Sudan has witnessed three military coups: the first was led by Ibrahim Abboud in 1959 who ruled until 1964; then Jaafar Nimeiri (1969 to 1985); and then Bashir (1989 to 2019).

Bashir seized power from the elected government led by Sadiq Al-Mahdi, leader of the Umma Party, the largest in Sudan.

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