Foreign

Former Sudan president charged with illicit possession of foreign currency

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A police detective on Monday, at the start of a corruption trial, told the court that Sudan’s former president, Omar Al-Bashir, received millions of dollars from Saudi Arabia.

Bashir listened to the testimony without comment, sitting in a metal cage and wearing traditional white robes and a turban in his first appearance in a Khartoum courtroom.

He was charged with illicit possession of foreign currency and accepting gifts in an unofficial manner.

Bashir’s lawyer, however, dismissed the accusations, telling reporters after the hearing, that it was usual for leaders to hold foreign currency.

The veteran leader spoke to confirm his name and age.

When asked about his residence, Bashir said, “formerly the airport district, at army headquarters but now Kobar prison,’’ referring to the detention complex.

However, it was reported that the Saudi government communications office, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the testimony.

Bashir weathered multiple rebellions, economic crises, U.S. sanctions and coup attempts until he was overthrown by the military in April after mass protests against his 30-year rule.

His trial was seen as a test of how serious authorities are about trying to erase the legacy of a rule marked by widespread violence, wars, economic collapse and the secession of South Sudan.

The 75-year-old, who seized power in a coup in 1989, arrived at the courthouse in a convoy with military and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces soldiers.

Family members shouted “Allahu Akbar’’ (God is the Greatest) and he raised his hand in greeting from the courtroom cage.

A small number of family members were permitted inside the cage, after the session ended, to speak with him.

The next hearing was scheduled for Saturday.

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