Former Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir said on Tuesday that he took full responsibility for the events in 1989 that brought him to power, speaking at a trial in which he stands charged with leading a military coup.
Bashir has been jailed since army officers deposed him during an uprising in April 2019, ending his three-decade rule. His legal team has dismissed the trial over the June 30, 1989 coup as purely political.
“I assume all responsibility for what took place on June 30,” Bashir, dressed in white robes and appearing in good health, told a court in Khartoum. “I’ve been following the prosecution’s attempts to confirm this charge by presenting videos and witnesses, and I listen and enjoy it,” he said before pausing to smile.
Bashir also said that civilians who took official positions after he and other officers toppled the government in 1989 were brought in to help Sudan through a difficult period, but had not planned or carried out the coup. “Our concern was not power but rather we needed capabilities and we opened dialogue with all the political forces,” he said, according to comments reported by state news agency SUNA.
The trial began in 2020 and is expected to continue at least for several more months. Some defendants who were senior officials under Bashir have denied responsibility.
If convicted, Bashir could face a death sentence.
Bashir was convicted in another trial in December 2019 on illicit finance charges, and sentenced to two years in prison. He also faces prosecution over the killing of protesters.
He is wanted separately by the International Criminal Court over alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region.
Military leaders staged Sudan’s latest coup in October 2021, ending a power-sharing arrangement agreed after Bashir’s overthrow. This month the military signed an outline agreement with political parties to launch a new transition.