Court Declines To Release 1989 Coup Plotters


A court in Sudan on Tuesday refused to release key suspects in the 1989 coup that brought to power Omar al-Bashir, who himself was ousted in April 2019.

The court, a special tribunal chaired by Supreme Court judge Hussain al-Jack, heard demands from the defence team for the alleged plotters to be freed.

The defence team has been attacking technicalities in the case to seek early freedom for the suspects. They also protested delays in the case, arguing that it had been complicated by the country’s political chaos.

Sudan’s military last month took power and dissolved the transitional government of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. The case, though, had begun last year but was routinely postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the lack of a venue.

The defence team argued that the suspects had been held for months without formal charges.

But Judge Al-Jack said there was no indictment panel to bring the charges. Instead, the court decided to hold another pre-hearing session and to address the public prosecutor to assign a panel to replace the one that was dissolved.

However, the court agreed to release one of the suspects on medical grounds after lawyers proved he was mentally ill.

Nonetheless, the judge refused group visits for the accused, arguing each suspect faces a separate line of charges. Lawyers will continue to meet suspects separately.

The case includes Omar al-Bashir himself, now in jail for corruption, as well as various other senior military leaders at the time.

It was launched in July last year, with the suspects accused of undermining the constitution, violating the Armed Forces Act and fomenting a coup in 1989 against Sadiq al-Mahdi, who had been elected prime minister.

The ringleaders also include Bashir’s former vice-presidents Ali Osman Taha and Bakri Hassan Saleh, four members of his cabinet and 10 senior military officers. Each of them faces the death penalty if found guilty.

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