Sudan’s former president Omar al-Bashir, who was toppled in April after months of mass protests across the country against his 30-year dictatorship, has admitted in court that he received $25 million from Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
This happened after the judge formally charged him with illicit possession of foreign currency and corruption on Saturday in Sudan’s capital Khartoum, where the trial is being held. These offences, along with al-Bashir’s statement, could keep him behind bars for more than a decade.
Admitting that he has no record of how he spent the money, al-Bashir claimed he used the money for donations and not for his own benefit. Giving his statement from a metal cage in court, he stated:
My office manager … received a call from the office of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman saying he has a ‘message’ that will be sent on a private jet. We were told that the crown prince did not want his name to appear [linked to the transaction] … and if the funds were deposited with Sudan’s bank or the finance ministry, the source would have to be identified.”
In addition to this, al-Bashir was reportedly told to “use the money as you see fit”, and was never entirely sure of why he was given the money in the first place.
This comes amidst additional charges made in May against al-Bashir for being responsible for the killing of protesters during the uprising. He is also still wanted by the International Criminal Court for charges of war crimes and genocide in regards to the Darfur conflict of the 2000s. Al-Bashir’s three-decade long rule has long been critisized by human rights organizations as being marred by consistent violations of human rights and freedoms.
The mass protests that spread across Sudan earlier this year marked an enormous turning point in Sudan’s modern history, triggered from decades of poor economic conditions and the deteriorating political situation. Al-Bashir responded harshly, with scores of protesters tortured or killed during retaliations. Eventually toppled by a coup from the military, al-Bashir was forced down on the 11th of April.
As of now, al-Bashir’s trial continues, with his request for bail being denied. The trial has been adjourned until the 7th of September.