On Saturday, a Sudanese court sentenced Sudan’s former President Omar al-Bashir to two years in a social reform facility on charges of corruption and illicit possession of foreign currency. Instead of serving a jail term, the ousted former President will serve his term in a correctional facility since as per Sudanese law, individuals over the age of 70 cannot go to prison. Bashir is 75.
Who is Omar al-Bashir?
Bashir was born in 1944 in a village in northern Sudan and joined the Sudanese armed forces in 1960. During the Arab-Israeli war in 1973, Bashir served at the front with the Egyptian armed forces.
Bashir came to power in 1989 after he and some other officers led a mutiny against then Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi.
The coup was essentially led to stop the signing of a treaty with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement. If signed, the treat would mean that South Sudan would have been governed by secular instead of Sharia law, something which Bashir was not in favour of.
After that, until 2011, Bashir ruled over Sudan with an iron fist. The period of his rule was marked by allegations of oppression, genocide, and human rights abuses. In fact, when he came to power in 1989, Sudan was in the midst of a 21-year-long civil war between the northern and southern parts of the country.
After assuming power, Bashir introduced elements of Sharia law, which were opposed by the Christian and animist elements in the South.
Bashir was ousted in April by the Sudanese military following months of street protests against his three-decade rule. He was moved from the presidential palace to the Kobar prison in Khartoum in April this year, and has been there since.
What are the charges against him?
In March 2009, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued the first arrest warrant against Bashir; a second warrant was issued in July 2010.
A travel ban was imposed on Bashir after the ICC arrest warrants, despite which he made diplomatic visits to countries including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and South Africa.
The charges, as mentioned by ICC, include five counts of crimes against humanity, murder, extermination, forcible transfer and three counts of genocide and allegations of war crimes in Darfur among others.
Apart from this, Bashir also faces charges for the 1989 coup he led.
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