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Bashir trial defence keeps up fire against Sudan prosecutor

By Guardian Nigeria
03 November 2020   |   12:27 pm
Defence lawyers in the trial of Sudan's ousted president Omar al-Bashir over a 1989 coup on Tuesday kept up accusations that the prosecutor general was ineligible for the case.

Sudan’s ousted president Omar al-Bashir (C-L) appears during his trial in the capital Khartoum on November 3, 2020, along with others over the 1989 military coup that brought him to power. (Photo by Ebrahim HAMID / AFP)

Defence lawyers in the trial of Sudan’s ousted president Omar al-Bashir over a 1989 coup on Tuesday kept up accusations that the prosecutor general was ineligible for the case.

“The prosecutor general has been politicised, he is exploiting his authority,” a member of the defence team charged at the eighth hearing of the trial, which opened July 21 and is broadcast on Sudanese television.

Tagelsir al-Hebr, the prosecutor general, has read out a string of charges against Bashir and 27 co-defendants including undermining the constitutional order and the use of military force to commit a crime.

The defence has protested, alleging bias on Hebr’s part because he had filed the same charges before taking up the post of prosecutor-general.

After a nearly two-hour session, the judge adjourned the trial for a week to November 10.

Bashir rose to power after toppling the civilian government of prime minister Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi in the Islamist-backed coup.

The ousted strongman held on to power for 30 years until the military overthrew him on April 11, 2019, following unprecedented mass youth-led street demonstrations.

It is the first time in modern Arab history that the leader of a coup has been put on trial.

If convicted, Bashir and his co-accused — including former top officials — could face the death penalty.

Since his ouster, Bashir has been jailed in Khartoum’s high security Kober prison and was found guilty last December of corruption.

He has also been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over the deadly conflict in the Darfur region of western Sudan that broke out in 2003.

Ethnic minority rebels took up arms, accusing Khartoum of political and economic marginalisation of their vast region.

The United Nations estimates 300,000 people were killed and 2.5 million displaced in the conflict.

Last month, Sudanese officials met with ICC top prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to explore options of trying Bashir over genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

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