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Sudan's Bashir indicted as he admits to receiving millions from Saudi crown prince

Deposed president denies he used Mohammad bin Salman's funds for his own benefit as he faces charges of corruption and possessing illicit foreign currency
Omar al-Bashir has appeared in court amid heavy security (AFP)

Former Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir was formally indicted on charges of possessing illicit foreign currency and corruption on Saturday, after admitting to receiving vast sums of money from the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

During his first questioning in court, Bashir admitted to having received $25m from the crown prince, as well as funds from other sources, but denied that he had used the money for his own benefit.

"It was not possible to present the money to the ministry of finance or the central bank because that would have required clarifying the source of the funds, and the Saudi prince asked that his name should not appear," said Bashir.

'I used the money for private donations to various parties'

- Omar al-Bashir

"I used the money for private donations to various parties," including medical services, a university, an Islamic media channel, and the urgent provision of petroleum products, he said.

Bashir's lawyer said that his client denied the charges and that defence witnesses would testify in the next hearing.

The deposed president said he had also received more than 5m Sudanese pounds ($111,110) from the head of a cereals company that provides much of the country's flour, to be exchanged for foreign currency for flour imports.

The charges against Bashir carry maximum prison sentences of around 10 years.

The judge denied a request for bail for Bashir, who has appeared in court amid heavy security, and said that a decision on the duration of his decision would be taken at a hearing on 7 September.

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Police Brigadier Ahmed Ali, a detective working on the case, told a Khartoum court in a hearing in August that Bashir said that over the years he had received $90m in cash from Saudi rulers, including $25m sent to him by Mohammad bin Salman "to be used outside of the state budget".

Ali told the court that during a pre-trial investigation Bashir said part of the money was "delivered by some of Mohammad bin Salman's envoys".

The detective said $7.8m was found at the deposed president's house. Bashir admitted to receiving two payments from Saudi Arabia's now-deceased King Abdullah for $35m and $30m, which he had spent, according to the investigations.

Bashir was deposed by the military in April after months of protests across the country. 

His prosecution is seen as a test of how far military and civilian authorities now sharing power will go to counter the legacy of his 30-year rule.

Bashir was also charged in May with incitement and involvement in the killing of protesters. He has been indicted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague on charges of masterminding genocide in Sudan's Darfur region.