KHARTOUM, Sudan – A Sudanese court convicted former President Omar al-Bashir for money laundering and corruption on Saturday, sentencing him to two years in a rehabilitation center.
This is the first verdict in a series of legal cases against al-Bashir, which is also sought by the International Criminal Court on war crimes and genocide charges linked to the Darfur conflict in the 2000s.
The verdict came a year after Sudanese protesters began their revolt against al-Bashir's authoritarian regime. During its three decades in power, Sudan was on the US list for sponsoring terrorism, and its economy was hit by years of mismanagement and US sanctions.
Al-Bashir has been in custody since April, when Sudan's armed forces came in and removed him from power after months of protests across the country. The revolt eventually forced the military into a power-sharing agreement with civilians.
Under Sudanese law, al-Bashir, 75, is to be sent to a state rehabilitation center for seniors who are convicted of crimes not punishable by death.
Before reading the verdict, al-Bashir's supporters briefly interrupted proceedings and were expelled from the court by security forces.
The former strongman was charged with money laundering earlier this year after millions of US dollars, euros and Sudanese pounds were seized at his home shortly after his fall.
Sudan's armed forces said they would not extradite him to the ICC. The country's military-civilian transitional government has so far not indicated whether to hand it over to The Hague.
The corruption trial is separate from charges against al-Bashir over the killing of protesters during the uprising.
Anti-government protests erupted last December due to sharp price increases and shortages, but soon changed to al-Bashir's requests to resign. Security forces responded with a fierce crackdown that killed dozens of protesters in the months before their fall.
Saturday's verdict, which culminated in a months trial, can be appealed before a higher court.
In August, al-Bashir told the court that he received through his office manager $ 25 million from Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
He said the Crown Prince did not want to reveal that he was the source of the funds, so he did not deposit the money with the country's central bank.
He said the money was being used for donations and not for his own benefit. At least $ 2 million went to a military hospital and $ 3 million to a Sudanese university, he said.
Al-Bashir said $ 5 million was given to the Rapid Support Forces, a paramilitary unit that grew from the dreaded Janjaweed militias unleashed during the Darfur conflict in the 2000s.
The RSF is led by General Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, who is also a member of the newly appointed Sovereign Council that will govern Sudan during a three-year transition.
Protesters accuse the RSF of leading the crackdown on them, which began with the brutal destruction of their Khartoum camp in early June.
Al-Bashir did not provide documents or records for the expenses.