Sudan’s Bashir Kept Key to Room With Millions of Euros, Court Hears

By Reuters
September 9, 2019World News
Sudan’s Bashir Kept Key to Room With Millions of Euros, Court Hears
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 on Aug. 31, 2019. (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters)

KHARTOUM—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 defense 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.

RSF leader Dagalo, also known as Hemedti, was present during the cash handover, a witness said.

The witness provided the court with the receipts of all the funds except the 5 million euros to Dagalo’s brother.

“I was not given a paper receipt for the delivered amount,” he added.

Other recipients of cash included the Defense 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.

“Al-Bashir was the only one with a key to the room where the money was found. My mission was only to deliver the cash as ordered by al-Bashir,” Basheer told the court.

Abdelmoneim Mohamed, a second witness and an accountant at the International University of Africa, a private institution with links to Islamists, also testified in Bashir’s defense. He said the university’s director and deputy director received 4 million euros in cash from Bashir. He was told that the money was provided as “support” from the president.

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

Omar al-Bashir
Sudan’s autocratic former President Omar al-Bashir sits in a cage during his trial on corruption and money laundering charges, in Khartoum, Sudan on Aug. 24, 2019. (AP File Photo)

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.

By Khalid Abdelaziz

The CNN Wire contributed to this report.

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