Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir Sentenced to Prison. Will Extradition to The ICC Eventually Follow?

Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir (ICC Photo)

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

A Sudanese court sentenced former Sudan President and accused genocidist Omar al-Bashir to two years imprisonment following his recent conviction for corruption. Additionally, the Court ordered forfeiture of millions in Euros and Sudanese Pounds discovered at his residence after being deposed by a military coup. He faces the likelihood of additional charges levied against him in the near future.

From a foreign perspective, there still remains the unresolved matter of Mr. al-Bashir’s two arrest warrants issued by the International Criminal Court in The Hague stemming from accusations of genocide and other crimes against humanity.

Saturday’s judgment against Mr. Bashir followed a high-security presence in the court and despite several Islamist factions showing support for the deposed president. In April of 2019 military forces surrounded the presidential residence and effectively revoked his presidency, aided by a population increasingly upset over economic and social conditions blamed on his and his party’s autocratic rule.

Having his power evaporated, he was taken into custody and charged. Now convicted and sentenced, his defense announced their belief the charge was politically motivated and predicted the judiciary would eventually free it’s client. I find that rather unlikely given the resolve for Sudanese society, elements within the present government, and the military to resurrect a civil and economically liberated new beginning–Mr. Bashir’s cult-of-personality he wielded to his advantage during his terrible reign now symbolizes backwardness and brutality against the population and dissidents. He is not likely to garner sympathy. There is also the symbolism of December being the anniversary of the start of the civil uprising that led to his fall from power.

The present government’s prosecutors have indicated the likelihood of more to follow. Last May prosecutors filed information on accusations against Mr. Bashir for Incitement in the deaths of several citizens engaging in protest and demonstrations. This week he was summoned for questioning for his role in the 1989 coup that brought him to power. Concurrent to that, the military announced the dissolution of several organizations having ties to the former regime and the ex-president personally.

The corruption case might have been the simplest and most easily proven, and hence served as a means to remand Mr. al-Bashir into custody to build more complex cases, prosecutable in the future. There does of course remain the matter of the International Criminal Court.

The ICC held probable cause hearings that led to arrest warrants issued against President al-Bashir in 2009 and 2010:

From the International Criminal Court:

The warrants of arrest for Omar Al Bashir list ten counts on the basis of his individual criminal responsibility under article 25(3)(a) of the Rome
Statute as an indirect (co)perpetrator including:

• Five counts of crimes against humanity:
murder (article 7(1)(a)); extermination (article 7(1)(b)); forcible transfer (article 7(1)(d));
torture (article 7(1)(f)); and rape (article 7(1)(g));
• Two counts of war crimes: intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population as such or against individual civilians not
taking part in hostilities (article 8(2)(e)(i)); and pillaging (article 8(2)(e)(v)); and
• Three counts of genocide: genocide by killing (article 6-a), genocide by causing serious bodily or mental harm (article 6-b) and
genocide by deliberately inflicting on each target group conditions of life calculated to bring about the group’s physical destruction
(article 6-c).

Presently, the ICC prosecution is frozen in the Pre-Trial stage as it has indicated it will not try defendants in absentia. The proceedings are to resume once the defendant is seated at the court.

The ICC indicates in its operating charter that it may decline or defer prosecution against a defendant if it can be shown that his nation will afford the defendant a criminal trial analogous to proceedings expected at The Hague. Whether this will involve quashing the ICC warrants I do not know at this time. Sudan could show the world considerable resolve to reform if it provides a full accounting for the prior government and Mr. al-Bashir’s actions alleged by the ICC. Doing so on its own accord will present an opportunity for redemption, especially in the minds of so many who have taken much publicly expressed exception to the atrocities committed in the Darfur region and against minority ethnic groups during the conflicts.

Whether or not in the end the ICC receives Mr. al-Bashir it remains to be seen. The realpolitik is succinctly that a tyrant is now devoid of power and whatever form of justice is served upon him he will be truly at the mercy of the courts wherever situated they might be. Surely he will be afforded a far more legitimate and just process than the what victims of his autocratic rule were ruthlessly dispensed. That is the unfortunate state of when merciless politicians are not held at bay, and ordinary powerless individuals are summarily executed, arbitrarily imprisoned, and repressed; while those instigating the genocide receive a comparatively clean, proper and virtuous trial. (Because that is the “civilized” manner in which we try the world’s despots.)

By Darren Smith

Sources: | The International Criminal Court

Photo Credit: International Criminal Court: The Hague, Netherlands

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