Corruption trial of Sudan's al-Bashir to begin on August 17

A lawyer of Sudan's deposed leader said he failed to appear in court for the first session.

    Sudan's former President Omar al-Bashir is facing corruption charges [File: Umit Bektas/Reuters]
    Sudan's former President Omar al-Bashir is facing corruption charges [File: Umit Bektas/Reuters]

    The trial of toppled Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir on corruption charges will begin on August 17, his lawyer said, after the former president failed to appear in court on Wednesday for the first session.

    "Today was the first session of his trial but the authorities were unable to bring him due to security reasons. So the judge informed us that the trial will now start on August 17," Hisham al-Gaaly told AFP news agency.

    The head of al-Bashir's defence team, Ahmed Ibrahim al-Tahir, said the trial had no "political background".

    "It is an absolute criminal case with a baseless accusation," he said.

    On June 16, a prosecutor had read out charges against the deposed leader in what was his first appearance since he was removed from power on April 11.

    Al-Bashir faces charges related to "possessing foreign currency, corruption and receiving gifts illegally".

    Al-Tahir said that one of the charges against al-Bashir was related to about 7 million euros ($7.8m), which were given as a "grant by a donor and was not included in the state budget".

    In April, Sudan's military ruler General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said more than $113m worth of cash in three currencies had been seized from al-Bashir's residence. 

    He said a team of police, army and security agents found the seven million euros, plus $350,000 and five billion Sudanese pounds ($105m).

    Al-Bashir was toppled by the military on April 11 after nationwide protests that erupted in December following his government's decision to triple the price of bread.

    Unrest after student deaths

    The announcement of the new trial date comes as Sudanese activists called for mass protests across the country amid tensions with the ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC) following the killings of civilians in a central province.

    The Sudanese Professionals Association has spearheaded the protests that led to the end of al-Bashir's rule.

    It said marches on Thursday will demand justice for the six people - including at least four schoolchildren - who were shot dead in the city of El-Obeid. 

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    The deaths led to more mass protests on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the TMC ordering all kindergartens, primary and high schools across Sudan to close indefinitely on Wednesday.

    The African Union's mediator for Sudan has called for a speedy trial of those responsible for the children's deaths.

    SOURCE: News agencies