The ex-Sudanese president’s cronies tried to break him out of jail ahead of his trial
- Elements loyal to the 75-year-old, who was ousted in a military coup in April following a protracted popular uprising, tried to free him from the notorious high security Kober prison in June, according to a police statement seen by CNN.
- Bashir's lawyer told CNN that the president had no involvement in the breakout attempt. "We have met with him twice since he was detained and not even once has he mentioned this alleged attempt, nor has he been accused by any authority of any involvement," Hashem Abu Bakr Al-Gaaly said.
- Another investigation is still ongoing into charges that Bashir incited and was criminally complicit in the killing of demonstrators during months of popular demonstrations that began over a rise in the cost of living, but escalated into a push for his removal.
Sudan’s former president Omar al-Bashir appeared in a Khartoum court for the first day of his high-profile corruption trial on Monday, against a backdrop of heightened security following a failed attempt to break him out of prison, CNN has learned.
No arrests or other details related to the incident were provided.
Since the incident, security around the autocratic former ruler has been ramped up, which was on full display Monday as Bashir arrived at the the Judicial and Legal Science Institute escorted by a convoy of military vehicles fitted with heavy machine guns. The trial was moved to the institute because it is close to Kober and easier to secure, Al-Gaaly told CNN.
The greying former ruler, who appeared in a court cage, is pleading not guilty to charges of possessing foreign currency, corruption and receiving gifts illegally.
Addressing the court, a state investigator outlined the foreign funds Bashir allegedly told them he had been given to distribute as “donation and gifts for the poor,” including Sh2.6 billion ($25 million) from Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The investigator also said that Bashir claimed to have received Sh3.6 billion ($35 million) from the late Saudi King Abdallah bin Abdelaziz al-Saud and Sh103 million ($1 million) from Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, the President of the United Arab Emirates, for similar reasons.
“We are reaffirming that the former president did not benefit from even one dollar of this sum and didn’t even have a foreign currency account,” Al-Gaaly said.
The start of the trial comes two days after opposition leaders and military generals signed a power-sharing agreement — the first step on the road to forming a civilian government.
Since his fall from power, Bashir has been imprisoned in the same notorious Khartoum jail where generations of political dissidents have been held under his rule.
In the wake of a bloody crackdown by security forces on protesters, “rogue elements” within the regime tried to break into the prison on June 4, with the aim of freeing Bashir and other jailed members of the regime, according to a police report.
Taking advantage of that chaos and instability, Bashir loyalists descended on Kober in an attempt to free the deposed leader, but they were thwarted, according to the police statement.
After his failed escape, Bashir was transferred to a safehouse on the banks of the Nile River in an upscale part of Khartoum not far from the president’s former residence. The safehouse, ring-fenced by security forces, was once the home of ex-intelligence chief Mohamed Atta al-Moula.
“The conditions of his detention are bad. It’s unclean and full of mosquitoes,” al-Gaaly said.
Unlike other inmates, Bashir’s 3×3 meter cell has two fridges, air conditioning and a bed, the source said.
“This was good for his morale,” the source said.
Bashir is being held next to the inmates on death row in the political section of the prison, which has traditionally been supervised by security and intelligence agencies.
Bashir was given an extensive escort to her funeral, raising concerns from commentators locally that he was being given special privileges.
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