(TELESUR) – Sudan’s ousted president Omar Hassan al-Bashir acknowledged receiving millions of dollars from Saudi Arabia, a police detective told a court Monday at the start of a corruption trial that most Sudanese thought they would never see.
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 is charged with illicit possession of foreign currency and unofficially accepting gifts. Bashir’s lawyer dismissed the accusations, telling reporters after the hearing it was usual for leaders to hold amounts of foreign currency.
The Saudi government communications office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the testimony.
Bashir was overthrown by the military in April after mass protests against his 30-year rule. His trial will be 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.
Police Brigadier General Ahmed Ali Mohamed, a detective in the team investigating Bashir, testified that Bashir told them he had received US$25 million from Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, known as MBS.
The detective cited Bashir as saying MBS gave him the money for spending outside the Sudanese state budget and that it was spent on donations, without going into further details on who received it.
Sums of US$351,000, more than 6 million Euros and 5 million Sudanese pounds were found at Bashir’s home when he was arrested, a judicial source said at the time.
Mohamed said Bashir also told investigators he received US$65 million dollars, in two separate payments, from former Saudi King Abdullah.
Bashir was also charged in May with incitement and involvement in the killing of protesters, and prosecutors also want him questioned over suspected money laundering and terrorist financing.
Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague on charges of masterminding genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region.
On Saturday, Sudan’s ruling military council, which took over after Bashir’s ouster, signed a power-sharing agreement with the main opposition coalition, paving the way for a transitional government and eventual elections. The pact sets up a sovereign council as the highest authority in the country, but largely delegates executive powers to the cabinet of ministers.
The sovereign council was due to be sworn in on Monday. But the spokesman for the Transitional Military Council, Lieutenant General Shams El-Din Kabbashi, said the formation of the new ruling body would be delayed by 48 hours on the request of the opposition coalition.