Sudan's Bashir kept key to room with millions of euros, court hears


  • World
  • Saturday, 07 Sep 2019

FILE PHOTO: Sudan's former president Omar Hassan al-Bashir sits inside a cage at the courthouse where he is facing corruption charges, in Khartoum, Sudan August 31, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan's toppled former leader Omar al-Bashir was the only person with a key to a room at the presidential palace holding millions of euros, his last office manager testified on Saturday.

Speaking at Bashir's trial on charges of possessing illicit foreign currency and corruption, Yasser Basheer said the former president gave him more than 10 million euros' ($11 million) cash in his final months of rule for delivery to different parties.

Sudan's military ousted Bashir in April after months of protests. His prosecution is a test of how far power-sharing military and civilian authorities will tackle the legacy of his 30-year authoritarian rule.

The former manager, who worked for Bashir from September 2018 and was speaking as a defence witness, said the president once gave him 5 million euros for Abdelrahim Hamdan Dagalo, deputy head of the feared paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

The money, Basheer said, was delivered in the presence of Abdelrahim's brother Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, head of the RSF and deputy head of the Transitional Military Council that ruled after Bashir's ouster. He is now a member of the Sovereign Council formed in a military-civilian power-sharing deal.

Other recipients of cash included the Defence Ministry, plus military personnel and civilians for medical treatment, Basheer said, adding that he did not know the source of the cash and was only following orders.

Abdelmoneim Mohamed, an accountant at the International University of Africa, a private institution with links to Islamists, also testified in Bashir's defence. He said the university's director and deputy director received 4 million euros in cash from Bashir.

Bashir sat in a metal cage in the courtroom wearing traditional white robes and turban.

Though he did not speak at Saturday's hearing, he denied the charges when formally indicted a week ago.

Speaking publicly for the first time since his ouster, Bashir said last week he had received $25 million from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as well as from other sources, but had not received or used money for his own benefit.

"I used the money for private donations to various parties," including medical services, a university, an Islamic media channel, and urgent fuel provision, he said.

Millions of euros and Sudanese pounds were found at Bashir's residence in April, a judicial source said.

The charges carry maximum prison sentences of around 10 years. The next hearing is set for Sept. 14.

The International Criminal Court in The Hague issued arrest warrants against him in 2009 and 2010 on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Sudan's Darfur region.

(Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Yousef Saba; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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