Sudan’s toppled President Omar al-Bashir will appear in court next week to face charges of corruption, the country’s acting prosecutor general has said, while announcing the opening of criminal cases against dozens of former officials accused of graft.
Al Waleed Sayed Ahmed made the announcement on Saturday, two months after the military overthrew and arrested al-Bashir following mass protests against his 30-year rule.
The former president “will appear in court next week following charges of corruption and possessing foreign currency,” Ahmed said, without specifying a date.
The trial referral would be made after a one-week period for objections expires, Ahmed said. He added that 41 other former officials were under investigation for corruption.
He did not name the others accused but said most of the charges were related to the “possession of land”.
Ahmed’s announcement came days after the official SUNA news agency said al-Bashir faced several charges, including “possessing foreign funds, acquiring suspected and illegal wealth” as well as ordering a state of emergency in response to protests in February.
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Al-Bashir, who has not been seen in public since his arrest, had already been charged in May with incitement and involvement in the killing of protesters. Prosecutors had also ordered his interrogation on suspicion of money laundering and financing “terrorism”.
Shams, a Sudanese protester, told Al Jazeera the move against al-Bashir was aimed at “distracting” from the generals’ recent bloody crackdown on a protest camp outside the military headquarters in the country’s capital, Khartoum.
Sudanese doctors said more than 118 protesters were killed in the June 3 raid on the protesters, who were demanding the Transitional Military Council (TMC) that replaced al-Bashir cede power to an interim administration led by civilians.
“I feel that this is side news, distracting from the main issue right now which is how the sit-in was cleared,” Shams said from Khartoum. “We want to get to the main issue. We want the negotiations to reach an end and we want our internet back so we can have the freedom to actually protest on the streets and have everyone around the world see us and hear us.”
She said protesters would like al-Bashir prosecuted under a civilian government.
The TMC, which began negotiations with protesters after al-Bashir’s removal, has dragged its heels on handing over power to a civilian-led transitional body. The Alliance for Freedom and Change, a coalition of protest groups and opposition parties representing the demonstrators, suspended talks after the crackdown and launched a civil disobedience campaign.
They have called for an independent and international investigation into the violent dispersal of the protest camp. The TMC has since admitted to ordering the crackdown.
On Wednesday, the protest movement called off the civil disobedience campaign after the TMC agreed to release “political prisoners”, according to an Ethiopian envoy, and agreed to resume talks with the TMC.
The top United States’ diplomat for Africa, Tibor Nagy, said outside mediation was needed to defuse Sudan‘s crisis. “The two parties absolutely do not trust each other in any way,” Nagy said on Friday, following a visit to Khartoum.
He also backed a call for an “independent and credible inquiry” into the crackdown on protesters, saying accounts of victims he had met in Khartoum had been “harrowing”.
The Sudanese government has confirmed 61 deaths in the sit-in raid.
Shams al-Din Kabashi, the military council spokesman, said on Thursday there had been excesses and deviations from a plan devised after the council ordered military leaders to clear the sit-in.
Some officers have been arrested in connection with the raid and the results of an investigation will be announced soon, he said.