NEWS

Ex-Sudan strongman al-Bashir gets 2 years for corruption

Ex-Sudan strongman al-Bashir gets 2 years for corruption

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — A court in Sudan convicted former President Omar al-Bashir of money laundering and corruption on Saturday, sentencing him to two years in a minimum security lockup.That’s the first verdict in a series of legal proceedings against al-Bashir, who is also wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes and genocide linked to the Darfur conflict in the 2000s.The verdict comes a year after Sudanese protesters erupted in revolt against al-Bashir’s authoritarian rule. During his three decades in power, Sudan landed on the U.S. list for sponsoring terrorism, and the country’s economy was battered by years of mismanagement and American sanctions.Al-Bashir has been in custody since April, when Sudan’s military ousted him after months of nationwide protests. The uprising eventually forced the military into a power-sharing agreement with civilians.Under Sudanese law, al-Bashir, 75, will be sent to a state-run lockup for elderly people who are convicted of crimes not punishable with death. But he will remain in jail amid an ongoing trial on separate charges regarding the killing of protesters in the months prior to his ouster.Before the verdict was read, supporters of al-Bashir briefly disrupted the proceedings and were pushed out of the courtroom by security forces. The ex-president appeared in the defendant’s cage wearing a traditional white robe and turban. He had arrived in a white Land Cruiser SUV amid tight security at the Judicial and Legal Science Institute in the capital, Khartoum.Sudan’s military has said it would not extradite him to the ICC. The country’s military-civilian transitional government has not indicated whether they will hand him over to the The Hague.Anti-government demonstrations erupted last December over steep price rises and shortages, but soon shifted to calls for al-Bashir to step down. Security forces responded with a fierce crackdown that killed dozens of protesters in the months prior to his ouster.Millions of U.S. dollars, euros and Sudanese pounds were seized in al-Bashir’s home shortly after the military removed him from power.Saturday’s verdict could be appealed before a higher court. In August, al-Bashir told the court that he received through his office manager $25 million from Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.He said the crown prince did not want to reveal that he was the source of the funds, so he did not deposit the money in the country’s central bank.He said the money was being used for donations not for his own benefit. At least $2 million went to a military hospital and $3 million to a university, he said.Al-Bashir said $5 million was given to the Rapid Support Forces, a paramilitary unit that grew out of the feared Janjaweed militias unleashed during the Darfur conflict.The RSF is led by Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, who is also a member of the newly appointed Sovereign Council that is to rule Sudan during its three-year transition.Protesters accuse the RSF of leading the crackdown against them, including the June break-up of their sit-in camp in Khartoum.___Magdy reported from Cairo.

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