A court in Khartoum is due to give its verdict on Saturday against the ex-Sudanese president Omar el-Béchir, accused of corruption, a few months after his dismissal by the army under pressure from the street.
This “special court” is to rule from 10:00 am (08:00 GMT) and make a first court decision targeting the former strongman of Sudan, ousted from power on April 11 after an authoritarian reign of 30 years.
In this case, which involves funds raised from Saudi Arabia, Mr. Béchir faces up to 10 years in prison.
This is a political trial.
Since August, the former Sudanese strongman has attended several hearings in this trial, seated in a metal cage, dressed entirely in white. Coming to power in 1989 by a coup, the ex-officer has been detained since April at Kober’s prison in Khartoum.
Friday evening, after calls to demonstrate in support of Mr. Bashir posted on social networks, the Sudanese army announced that the roads leading to its headquarters in Khartoum will be closed on Saturday, but specified that it believed in “the freedom of ‘expression”.
Sudan is today ruled by a transitional government with a civilian Prime Minister and a Sovereign Council made up of the military and civilians.
“This is a political trial,” Mohamed al-Hassan, lawyer for Mr. Bashir, repeated to the press, who notably assured that the money was not used for personal purposes but in the form of “ donations “.
According to a witness at trial, the former Sudanese president thus gave some five million euros to the dreaded paramilitary group of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
If the former president admitted to having received a total of 90 million dollars (81 million euros) from Saudi leaders, the trial concerns only 25 million dollars (22.5 million euros) received shortly before his fall from the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
After Mr. Béchir’s arrest, the authorities seized 6.9 million euros, 351,770 dollars and 5.7 million Sudanese pounds from his home.
Sudan is one of the countries most affected by corruption: it ranks 172 out of 180 in the world ranking of the organization Transparency International.
But this trial of the ex-dictator for corruption is “a small matter compared to the crimes he committed,” said Adam Rashid, deputy secretary general of the Darfur Bar Association.
The ex-president must be tried for his crimes and crimes, “big or small”, he demands. “Victims of his crimes in Darfur don’t have to worry about this.”
In fact, this first trial does not evoke the heavy charges brought for a decade against Mr. Béchir by the International Criminal Court (ICC), which issued against him two arrest warrants for “war crimes”, “crimes against humanity “and” genocide “in Darfur.
This western Sudanese province has been the scene of a bloody war between rebels and pro-government forces. The conflict, which erupted in 2003, left 300,000 dead and 2.5 million displaced, according to the UN.
To date, the transitional government set up in September has not authorized the extradition of the ex-leader to The Hague, where the ICC sits.
Even if Sudan has not ratified the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the ICC, the country has a legal obligation to arrest Mr. Bashir. The ICC investigation into its crimes in Darfur was carried out under a mandate from the United Nations, of which Sudan is a member.
The Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC), which led the challenge against Mr. Béchir, said they had no objection to an extradition.
In addition to the corruption case and the charges before the ICC, Mr. Béchir could face other alleged crimes before the justice of his country.
On November 12, the Sudanese authorities issued a new arrest warrant for his role in the 1989 coup, which a special commission from the Khartoum prosecution is investigating.
According to the Attorney General, Mr. Béchir is also accused of murders committed during the demonstrations that led to his eviction. But, to date, he has not had to answer for these accusations.