Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir Charged in Connection With Killing of Protesters

Sudan’s former President, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, has been charged over his role in the killing of protestors during demonstrations that led to his ouster last month, the nation’s public prosecutor reported in a statement on Monday. 

The prosecutor’s office accused Mr al-Bashir and others of “inciting and criminal complicity” in the death of demonstrators, according to Sudan’s official news agency. 

The announcement came on a day of bloody clashed in the capital, Khartoum, between armed groups of unclear affiliation and protestors, who are demanding civilian rule. The military denied any role in the violence and blamed saboteurs for the death. 

The Sudan Doctors Committee reported six people had been killed, including an army officer, during clashes overnight in several parts of the country. Protest organisers urged people to rally again, tweeting “our moral obligation to protect and complete our revolution is rising.”

The charge against Mr. al-Bashir is the latest step in the downfall of one of Africa’s most enduring dictators. 

It all began when the military cast Mr. al-Bashir into Kober prison in Khartoum. Then officials searched home and said they uncovered bundles of hard currency. A military council, which has seized power, said it would not extradite Mr. Al- Bashir to the international Criminal Court in the Hague, where he faces longstanding charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity over his role in the conflict in Darfur. But prosecutors accused him of money laundering and financial crimes. 

The most recently statement on Monday singled that prosecutors are now focusing on other potential crimes, with one news agency report stating Mr. al-Bashir would be half accountable for the death of “the martyr Babikir,” a possible reference to Dr. Babiker Salama, a 27 year old doctor whose death during a a portent in January became a rallying point for uprising against Mr. al-Bashir. 

Witnesses said that Dr. Babiker, an idealist from a middle-class family, approached security officials during protests with his hands held high to plead for the evacuation of the wounded. Moments later a shot rang out and the doctor fell to the ground, grievously wounded.

An hour later he was declared dead, igniting a storm of public anger that offered an early sign that the authority of Mr. al-Bashir, who had ruled Sudan for 30 years, was crumbling.

The doctor was one of 90 people who have been killed in the protests throughout Sudan since December, according to the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors, which has been tracking casualties. The government lists 65 as dead. Until Monday, no senior government figures had been held to account.

In the case of Dr. Babiker, prosecutors have been seeking witnesses and gathering evidence in relation to his death, according to a relative who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation.

Mr. al-Bashir’s fate, once the sole focus of pro-democracy protesters, has moved into the background in recent weeks as protest leaders have negotiated with the country’s generals over whether the country should be run by civilian or military leaders.

Sudanese protesters block Nile Street, a major avenue in the capital, Khartoum, on Monday, for the second consecutive day.

Thousands of protesters have refused to leave a zone at the gates of the military headquarters in Khartoum, demanding they be given full control during a transition to elections, a period the military says may last two years.

Extracts from New York Times article by Declan Walsh

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