Sudan's former president Omar Hassan al-Bashir smiles as he is seen inside a cage at the courthouse where he is facing corruption charges, in Khartoum, Sudan August 31, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah
KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Stacks of cash piled high were shown as evidence on Saturday against ousted Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir at his trial on charges of possessing illicit foreign currency and corruption.
Millions of euros and Sudanese pounds were found at Bashir’s residence in April after he was overthrown and detained by the military following months of demonstrations against his rule.
The court heard four defense witnesses on Saturday, including Abubakr Awad, who was minister of state for the presidency until Bashir’s fall, before it was adjourned until next Saturday.
A member of Bashir’s defense, Mohamed al-Hassan al-Amin, said possessing the funds was not a crime.
“These sums of money were found in the possession of the president. And possessing any sum does not constitute a crime, whether it was $1 million or $100 million,” he told reporters.
“Trading in foreign currency is what constitutes a crime,” he said, adding that charges related to illicit gain and accepting gifts did not apply to the president.
Bashir smiled as he sat in a metal cage in the courtroom. Supporters cheered for him as he entered and left the court, shouting “Allahu akbar!”
Speaking publicly for the first time since his ouster, Bashir said last month 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.
His prosecution is a test of how far power-sharing military and civilian authorities will tackle the legacy of his 30-year authoritarian rule.