Four children were among 18 people killed Thursday when a Sudanese military transport plane crashed after takeoff from West Darfur state, an army spokesman said.
The plane crashed five minutes after takeoff from an airport in the state capital El Geneina, after delivering aid to the area, which had been hit by recent deadly tribal fighting.
“An Antonov 12 military plane crashed Thursday night after take off from El Geneina killing its seven-member crew, three judges and eight civilians, including four children, who were on board,” the spokesman Amer Mohammed Al-Hassan said.
He said an investigation was underway to determine the cause of the crash.
Most of Sudan’s military and civilian fleet consists of old Soviet-made aircraft, and the country has suffered a series of crashes in recent years, with the military frequently blaming technical problems and bad weather.
Earlier a military source told AFP the plane had delivered aid to West Darfur which was rocked earlier this week by deadly tribal clashes.
At least 48 people have been killed and 241 wounded in that violence, according to Sudan’s Red Crescent.
It said the armed clashes broke out on Sunday night in El Geneina, and continued until Monday between Arab and African groups, with several houses torched.
A Sudanese court on Monday sentenced 27 intelligence agents to death for torturing and killing a protester early this year, an AFP correspondent said.
It is the first time members of the security forces have been condemned to death in relation to the killing of protesters whose movement toppled veteran autocrat Omar al-Bashir.
The defendants were found guilty of torturing to death Ahmed al-Kheir Awadh at an intelligence services facility and sentenced to be hanged, judge Sadok Albdelrahman said.
The teacher was beaten and tortured to death after he was arrested in late January by intelligence operatives in Kassala state in eastern Sudan, the judge said.
Dozens of protesters from the capital’s teachers’ association gathered in front of the court in Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman, carrying pictures of Awadh.
Defence lawyers have two weeks to lodge an appeal against the death sentences.
Sudanese first took to the streets just over a year ago, to protest against high bread prices, but the demonstrations soon turned into demands for Bashir to step down.
The president was deposed in April by the military, but huge protests continued, culminating in a compromise that saw a joint military-civilian transitional council formed in August.
At least 177 people were killed in repression of the months-long protests, according to rights group Amnesty International, while a doctors’ committee close to the protest movement put the toll at over 250.
Many of those killed were the victims of a June 3 massacre outside army headquarters in Khartoum, perpetrated by men in military fatigues.
On the first anniversary of the protests, thousands of Sudanese citizens earlier this month took to the streets of Khartoum and other cities, in order to pay their respects to the “martyrs of the revolution”.
Bashir was on December 14 sentenced to two years in an elderly offenders’ institution after being convicted in a corruption case.
The former president faces numerous other domestic probes, and he has long been wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes, including genocide, related to the conflict in Darfur.
The transitional administration inherited an enfeebled economy, which was battered by years of US sanctions under Bashir, patronage and the secession of oil-rich South Sudan in 2011.
The first post-Bashir budget was unveiled by the government late Sunday. It envisages an increase in the deficit to 3.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020, up from 3.3 percent in 2019.
Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir, who on Saturday was ordered detained in a correctional centre for two years for corruption, ruled his country with an iron fist for 30 years before his ouster in April.
Here are some of his key dates.
– January 1, 1944: Born to a farming family in the village of Hosh Bannaga, north of Khartoum.
– 1973: A soldier from a young age, fights alongside the Egyptian army in the Arab-Israeli war.
– June 30, 1989: As brigade commander, seizes power in an Islamist-backed coup against the democratically elected government.
– 2003: Sends troops and militia to crush a rebellion in Darfur. The conflict claims more than 300,000 lives, according to the UN.
– 2009: The International Criminal Court issues a warrant for his arrest for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. The following year it issues a warrant for genocide. He denies the charges.
– 2010: Elected president in the first multiparty vote since he took power, boycotted by the opposition. Re-elected in 2015.
– 2013: Deadly demonstrations against his government erupt after a petrol price hike.
– April 11, 2019: After four months of protests demanding he quit, Bashir is ousted by the military and detained.
– May 13, 2019: Charged over killings of protesters.
– August 19, 2019: Goes on trial for corruption.
– November 12, 2019: Charged with “plotting” the 1989 coup that brought him to power.
– December 14, 2019: Convicted of graft and “possession of foreign currency”, and ordered to serve two years in a correctional centre for the elderly.
A Sudanese court convicted deposed president Omar al-Bashir of graft on Saturday and sentenced him to two years’ house arrest in a social care facility.
The charges stemmed from millions of dollars received by the toppled strongman from Saudi Arabia.
Bashir, who was deposed by the army in April after months of mass protests against his three-decade rule, appeared in court in a metal cage wearing a traditional white jalabiya and turban for the verdict.
He was convicted of “corruption” and “possession of foreign currency”, judge Al Sadiq Abdelrahman said, charges which can carry a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
Instead the court, taking into account his age, ordered the 75-year-old to serve two years in a correctional centre for the elderly.
“Under the law, those who reached the age of 70 shall not serve jail terms,” the judge said.
Bashir will serve his sentence after the verdict has been reached in another case in which he is accused of ordering the killing of demonstrators during the protests that led to his ouster, the judge said.
The court also ordered the confiscation of 6.9 million euros, $351,770 and 5.7 million Sudanese pounds ($128,000) found at Bashir’s home.
The ex-president will appeal the verdict, said one of his lawyers, Ahmed Ibrahim.
Outside the court, several dozen Bashir supporters gathered chanting: “There is no god but God.”
Hundreds more holding banners reading “Down, down the government” marched in central Khartoum where there was a heavy security presence.
Sudan is now ruled by a joint civilian and military sovereign council, which is tasked with overseeing a transition to civilian rule.
The authorities announced Saturday the dissolution of professional organisations put in place under Bashir — one of the demands of the protest movement that unseated him.
Bashir admitted to having received a total of $90 million from Saudi leaders and the trial centred on the $25 million received from Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Bashir said the money seized from his home came out of the $25 million.
The funds, he said, formed part of Sudan’s strategic relations with Saudi Arabia and were “not used for private interests but as donations”.
Bashir’s lawyer Mohamed al-Hassan had said before the verdict that the ex-president’s defence did not see the trial as a legal case, but as a “political” one.
The trial does not relate to charges Bashir faces at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Bashir has been wanted by the ICC for years for his role in the Darfur war that broke out in 2003, when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against his Arab-dominated government which they accused of marginalising the region.
Human rights groups say Khartoum targeted suspected pro-rebel ethnic groups with a scorched earth policy, raping, killing, looting and burning villages.
The Darfur conflict left around 300,000 people dead and 2.5 million displaced, according to the United Nations.
After Bashir was toppled, ICC prosecutors requested he stand trial for the killings in Darfur.
Army generals who initially seized power after the president’s fall refused to hand him over.
But Sudan’s umbrella protest movement, which now has significant representation on a sovereign council that in August became the country’s highest executive authority — recently said it has no objection to his extradition.
Separately, on November 12, Sudanese authorities filed charges against Bashir and some of his aides for “plotting” the 1989 coup that brought him to power.
In May, Sudan’s attorney general said Bashir had been charged with the deaths of those killed during the anti-regime demonstrations that led to his ouster, without specifying when he would face trial.
The United States said Wednesday it would name an ambassador to Sudan for the first time in 23 years as it welcomed the country’s new reformist civilian leader.
The United States hailed early steps taken by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok to “break with the policies and practices of the previous regime,” which had tense relations with the West.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the United States would appoint an ambassador to Khartoum, subject to Senate confirmation, and that Sudan would restore full-level representation in Washington.
“This is a historic step to strengthen our bilateral relationship,” Pompeo wrote on Twitter.
In an accompanying statement, Pompeo praised Hamdok’s civilian-led transitional government for launching “vast reforms.”
Hamdok has “demonstrated a commitment to peace negotiations with armed opposition groups, established a commission of inquiry to investigate violence against protestors, and committed to holding democratic elections at the end of the 39-month transition period,” Pompeo said.
Hamdok, a British-educated former diplomat and UN official, is the first Sudanese leader to visit Washington since 1985.
However, he had a low-key welcome, meeting the State Department number-three, David Hale, as well as lawmakers. Both Pompeo and President Donald Trump were away on foreign travel.
Hamdok took charge in August after months of demonstrations led by young people that brought down veteran strongman Omar al-Bashir and then a military council that had tried to stay in power.
The protests were triggered by discontent over the high cost of bread and other economic concerns.
The United States had tense relation with Bashir, who took power in 1989 and embraced Islamism, including welcoming Al-Qaeda leader Osama in Laden.
In one legacy that still tarnishes relations, the United States classifies Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism, a designation that the new government calls a severe impediment to foreign investment.
US officials, while voicing sympathy for Sudan’s appeals, say that removal of the designation is a legal process that will take time.
Tensions also soared over Bashir’s scorched-earth crackdown in the parched western region of Darfur, a campaign that the United States described as genocide as it urged prosecution of Bashir.
In a sign of the poor relations, the United States has been represented in Khartoum by a charge d’affaires rather than a full ambassador.
The verdict in the corruption trial of Sudan’s ousted president Omar al-Bashir is to be delivered on December 14, a judge announced Saturday, as his supporters staged a protest outside the court.
Bashir, who was overthrown by the army in April, has been on trial in a Khartoum court since August on charges of illegally acquiring and using foreign funds — offences that could land him behind bars for more than a decade.
Several hearings have been held, including one on Saturday, in the presence of the deposed leader who followed the proceedings from inside a metal cage.
“It has been decided that on December 14 a session will be held to deliver the verdict,” judge Sadeq Abdelrahman said.
Authorities seized 6.9 million euros, $351,770 and 5.7 million Sudanese pounds ($128,000) from Bashir’s home, Abdelrahman said at the start of the trial in August.
Bashir said at the time that the funds were the remainder of $25 million received from Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The aid, he said, formed part of Sudan’s strategic relations with Saudi Arabia and were “not used for private interests but as donations”.
Several defence witnesses testified in court, some backing up Bashir’s account.
Against the backdrop of trial in Khartoum, calls have grown from global rights groups, activists and victims of the war in Darfur to transfer Bashir to The Hague-based International Criminal Court.
‘No, No to ICC’
Bashir is wanted by the ICC for his alleged role in the Darfur war that broke out in 2003 as ethnic African rebels took up arms against Bashir’s then Arab-dominated government, accusing it of marginalising the region economically and politically.
Khartoum applied what rights groups say was a scorched earth policy against ethnic groups suspected of supporting the rebels — raping, killing, looting and burning villages.
The ICC has accused Bashir of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in the vast western region of Darfur. He denies the charges.
About 300,000 people were killed and 2.5 million displaced in the conflict, according to the United Nations.
On Saturday, dozens of Bashir’s supporters carrying his portraits held a protest outside the court, vowing to oppose any move by Sudan’s new authorities to hand him over to the ICC.
“We are with you. We will never betray you. No, no to ICC,” chanted the crowd as the former president was brought to the courthouse for the hearing.
“President Bashir represents the whole of Sudan. We have an independent judiciary and if any trials are to be held, they must be held here,” said demonstrator Mohamed Ali Daklai.
“We reject any outside or foreign tribunal. ICC is anyway a political court used by Western countries to pressure the weak.”
Bashir was ousted following nationwide protests against his iron-fisted rule of three decades.
The army generals who initially seized power after the president’s fall refused to hand 75-year-old Bashir over to the ICC.
For Jamal Ibrahim, whose sisters were raped by militiamen in Darfur, only the handover of Sudan’s ousted dictator Omar al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court can bring peace to the restive Darfur region.
“Two of my sisters were raped in front of my eyes by militiamen who stormed through our village, setting our houses on fire,” Ibrahim, 34, told AFP at Camp Kalma, a sprawling facility where tens of thousands of people displaced by the conflict in Darfur have lived for years.
“Bashir and his aides who committed the crimes in Darfur must be handed over to the ICC if peace is to be established in the region.”
Ibrahim, who is from Mershing in the mountainous Jebel Marra area of Darfur, said his village was attacked by Arab militiamen in March 2003 soon after conflict erupted in the region.
The fighting broke out when ethnic African rebels took up arms against Khartoum’s then Arab-dominated government under Bashir, alleging racial discrimination, marginalisation and exclusion.
Khartoum responded by unleashing the Janjaweed, a group of mostly Arab raiding nomads that it recruited and armed to create a militia of gunmen who were often mounted on horses or camels.
They have been accused of applying a scorched earth policy against ethnic groups suspected of supporting the rebels — raping, killing, looting and burning villages.
The brutal campaign earned Bashir and others arrest warrants from The Hague-based ICC for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
About 300,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced in the conflict, the United Nations says.
‘Won’t accept any peace deal’
Bashir, who denies the ICC charges, was ousted by the army in April after months of nationwide protests against his ironfisted rule of three decades.
He is currently on trial in Khartoum on charges of corruption, but war victims like Ibrahim want the ex-leader to stand trial at the ICC, something the northeast African country’s new authorities have so far resisted.
Ibrahim said his father and his uncle were shot dead when militiamen, riding on camels, rampaged through their village.
“We fled from there… and came to this camp. Since then we have not returned to our village,” Ibrahim told an AFP correspondent who visited Camp Kalma last week.
Established near Niyala, the provincial capital of South Darfur state, Camp Kalma is one of the largest facilities hosting people displaced by the conflict.
It is a sprawling complex of dusty tracks lined with mud and brick structures, including a school, a medical centre and a thriving market, where everything from clothes to mobile phones are sold.
Hundreds of thousands of Darfur victims live in such camps, subsisting on aid provided by the UN and other international organisations.
In Camp Kalma, hundreds of women and children queue up daily to collect their monthly quota of food aid.
“Often the officials here tell us that we must return to our village, but we can’t because our lands are occupied by others,” said a visibly angry Amina Mohamed, referring to Arab pastoralists who now occupy large swathes of land that previously belonged to people from Darfur.
“We won’t accept any peace deal unless we get back our land. We will leave this camp only when those who committed the crimes are taken to the ICC.”
Even as instances of violence in Darfur, a region the size of Spain, have fallen in recent years, there are still regular skirmishes between militiamen fighting for resources and livestock.
Sudan’s new transitional authorities have vowed to bring peace to Darfur and two other conflict zones of Blue Nile and South Kordofan.
A Sudanese delegation led by generals and government officials is currently holding peace talks in the South Sudan capital of Juba with two umbrella rebel groups that fought Bashir’s forces in these three regions.
On Wednesday, the chief of Sudan’s ruling sovereign council, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, announced a “permanent ceasefire” in the three regions to show that authorities are committed to establishing peace.
But residents of Camp Kalma are not convinced, with hundreds of them staging a protest against the talks in Juba.
Musa Adam, 59, who hails from the village of Dilej but has lived in Camp Kalma for years, is in no mood to forgive Bashir.
Seven members of his family were shot dead by militiamen when they raided his village in 2003, Adam said.
“I know those militia leaders… I am ready to testify at the ICC against them as a witness to their crimes,” he said.
“Until these criminals are taken to the ICC, we cannot have peace in Darfur.”
Sudan said on Thursday that the number of cases of cholera reported in the country have surged to 124, most of them in the war-torn state of Blue Nile.
The health ministry said the disease had been reported in the states of Blue Nile and Sinnar.
Of a total of 124 cases reported so far, 101 were in Blue Nile and the remaining in Sinnar, the ministry said in a statement.
Experts from the World Health Organization have been sent to the two regions, the ministry said.
Last week, the ministry reported four cases of cholera in Blue Nile.
It also said that three deaths from acute diarrhoea had also been reported in Blue Nile.
WHO at the time said it was working closely with health authorities in Blue Nile to tackle cholera cases there.
A WHO official in Sudan warned cholera and other diarrhoeal diseases could spread if no action was taken, due to “suboptimal health conditions” as well as poor water and sewage infrastructure, exacerbated by floods.
Dozens of people died from acute diarrhoea in Sudan in 2016 after thousands of cases were reported nationwide.
Blue Nile state, which has a large ethnic minority population, has been the focus of a rebellion by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North since 2011.
The army declared a ceasefire after the overthrow of veteran president Omar al-Bashir earlier this year.
Rights group Amnesty International Friday called for justice for those killed during months of protests that rocked Sudan, insisting that demonstrators had faced “disproportionate and unnecessary” violence.
Sudan has experienced unprecedentedly large rallies since December, first against now-ousted leader Omar al-Bashir and later against the generals who seized power after overthrowing him.
The protest movement says that more than 250 demonstrators were killed in the violence, including at least 127 in a crackdown on a sit-in during early June outside military headquarters in Khartoum.
“Amnesty International thanks the people of Sudan for showing us courage, for showing us resilience and for showing that we can resist injustice and violation of human rights,” Amnesty International Secretary General Kumi Naidoo told reporters during a visit to Khartoum, in the first such trip by the rights group’s chief to Sudan.
He said the demonstrators were confronted by “disproportionate use of violence, unnecessary use of violence and provocative use of violence”.