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Sudan’s Bashir questioned over 1989 coup that brought him to power

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The file photo shows Sudan's former president Omar al-Bashir.

Sudan's former president Omar al-Bashir has been summoned for questioning by a prosecutors’ committee over the 1989 coup that brought him to power, his lawyer says.

On Tuesday, Bashir was “brought to be investigated in the case of the alleged 1989 coup,” said his lawyer, Mohamed al-Hassan, who did not attend the hearing.

The lawyer also told reporters that in his view, the hearing was “not a judicial matter, it's a political matter.”

“We believe that this is a political trial par excellence because 30 years have passed and many variables have occurred,” al-Hassan told reporters of his summons on Tuesday.

“We do not know what happened in the investigation room. We have an agreement with President al-Bashir not to speak with this committee and to boycott it,” Amin added, referring to the investigative committee.

Bashir is being held in Kober prison in a separate case, for which he has been on trial since August, on charges of illegally acquiring and using foreign funds. A verdict is expected on Saturday in that trial.

In 1989, Bashir, a brigadier at the time, seized power in a coup that toppled the elected government of prime minister Sadiq al-Mahdi.

Bashir, who ruled Sudan until the military removed him in April following months of nationwide protests against his iron-fisted rule of three decades, was charged in May with incitement and involvement in the killing of protesters.

On November 12, Sudanese authorities filed charges against Bashir and some of his aides for “plotting” the 1989 coup. The prosecution established a special committee for the case.

If he was found guilty, he could face the death penalty or life imprisonment under Sudanese law.

Sudan is now ruled by a joint civilian and military sovereign council, which is tasked with overseeing a transition to civilian rule, as demanded by the protest movement.

On Tuesday, Bashir was taken from Kober prison to the prosecutor's office in a convoy under strong armed protection.

After the hearing, which lasted about an hour, a crowd gathered in front of the prosecutor's office, chanting “Kober prison — the best place for you!” and “You killed people!”

Wearing the traditional white Sudanese jalabiya and turban, Bashir raised his hands to the crowd, before he set off back toward Kober in the convoy.

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

To date, Sudanese transitional authorities have not displayed willingness to extradite the former leader to The Hague.

(Source: Agencies)

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