Sudan's Bashir gave over $5 mn to paramilitary force: defence witness

Sudan's Bashir gave over $5 mn to paramilitary force: defence witness
General Yasser Bashir told the court Omar al-Bashir gave 'five million euros' ($5.6 million) to the country's Rapid Support Forces paramilitary group.
3 min read
07 September, 2019
Bashir was deposed by the army in April [Getty]
Sudan's ousted leader Omar al-Bashir gave more than $5 million to a paramilitary group, a defence witness said on Saturday, apparently backing claims made by the autocrat at a previous session of his graft trial.

Bashir was deposed by the army in April following months of protests against his iron-fisted rule.

In August, he was charged with the illegal acquisition and use of foreign funds - offences that could land him behind bars for more than a decade.

Authorities had seized 6.9 million euros, $351,770 and 5.7 million Sudanese pounds (around $128,000) from Bashir's home "which he acquired and used illegally", a judge told the court on August 31.

But Bashir said the seized funds were the remainder of the equivalent of $25 million received from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The funds, he said, were part of Sudan's strategic relations with Saudi Arabia and were "not used for private interests but as donations".

On Saturday, at the trial's fourth session, the defence team presented two witnesses, including a former aide, who appeared to back the ousted leader's claim.

General Yasser Bashir told the court Bashir gave "five million euros" ($5.6 million) to the country's Rapid Support Forces paramilitary group. 

He said the funds were picked up in cash by Abdelrahim Daglo, the brother of RSF commander Lieutenant General Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, the deputy head of the military council that took over after Bashir's ouster.

"They did not give me a receipt," he added.

The aide said Bashir always had the key to the room where the money was kept with him.

"I had no access to this room," he said, as the 75-year-old veteran leader listened to the testimony from a black metal cage.

A second defence witness, Abdelmoneim Mohamed, a representative of Khartoum-based African International University, also told the court on Saturday he received funds from Bashir's office for his institution.

"The deputy chief of the university gave me four million euros, saying he had received this money from the presidency," Mohamed said.

After his overthrow, Bashir was transferred to the capital's maximum-security Kober prison, where thousands of political prisoners were held during his 30 years in power.  

Sudan has since embarked on a transition to civilian rule following a power-sharing deal signed on August 17 by protest leaders and the generals who ousted Bashir.

A civilian-military ruling body is now tasked with steering the country through a three-year transition period.

Before Bashir's ouster, Sudan had played a key role in supporting the regional interests of Saudi Arabia and its allies, with the autocrat overseeing a major foreign policy shift that saw Khartoum break its decades-old ties with Iran.

Bashir's next court session is expected for September 14.

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