Sudan: Former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir goes on trial in Khartoum

The first hearing of the court in which former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and 27 other people accused of participating in a coup d'etat in 1989 opened on Tuesday in Khartoum. Former Vice-President, Ali Osman Taha, and other defendants could be seen in a separate caged area from the public gallery. Extraordinary security measures appeared to have been put into effect around the courthouse during the hearing. Protesters also gathered outside of the court. The trial against Bashir has an unprecedented appearance in that it is distinct from other lawsuits against to perpetrators of a successful coup in the Arab world in recent records. Bashir, who is already in prison after being convicted of corruption charges, could face the death penalty if convicted for his part in the coup against a democratically elected Prime Minister, that propelled him into power. The International Criminal Court has also issued an arrest warrant against Bashir, accusing him of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity almost a decade ago. The 76-year-old was sentences to two years in prison for the corruption charges in December. One of Bashir's defence lawyers said the trial was political and likely to be unfair. The next hearing has been set for August 11 at a bigger court.

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