Ex-Sudan strongman al-Bashir gets two years for corruption

KHARTOUM, SUDAN (AP) — A court in Sudan convicted former President Omar al-Bashir of money laundering and corruption last Saturday night, sentencing him to two years in a minimum security lockup.

That’s the first verdict in a series of legal proceedings against al-Bashir, who is also wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of war crimes and genocide linked to the Darfur conflict in the 2000s.

The verdict comes a year after Sudanese protesters erupted in revolt against al-Bashir’s authoritarian rule. During his three decades in power, Sudan landed on the United States (US) list for sponsoring terrorism, and the country’s economy was battered by years of mismanagement and American sanctions.

Al-Bashir has been in custody since April, when Sudan’s military ousted him after months of nationwide protests. The uprising eventually forced the military into a power-sharing agreement with civilians.

Sudan’s military has said it would not extradite him to the ICC. The country’s military-civilian transitional government has not indicated whether it will hand him over to the The Hague.

The Sudanese Professionals’ Association, which was the backbone of the protest movement, welcomed Saturday’s verdict as a “moral and political conviction” against the former president and his regime.

Under Sudanese law, al-Bashir, 75, will be sent to a state-run lockup for elderly people who are convicted of crimes not punishable with death. But he will remain in jail amid an ongoing trial on separate charges regarding the killing of protesters in the months prior to his ouster.

The former strongman appeared in the defendant’s cage last Saturday wearing a traditional white robe and turban. He had arrived in a white Land Cruiser SUV amid tight security at the Judicial and Legal Science Institute in the capital, Khartoum.

As the verdict was read, a handful of al-Bashir’s supporters briefly disrupted the proceedings, shouting slogans before being pushed out of the courtroom by security forces.

Hundreds of al-Bashir’s supporters also protested near the presidential palace in Khartoum, where security forces closed off access.