By Khalid Abdelaziz
KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudanese authorities have arrested several members of the former ruling party of ousted President Omar al-Bashir, an official of Bashir’s National Congress Party (NCP) said on Saturday.
Sudan’s attorney general has also asked the country’s intelligence and national security agencies to lift the immunity of a number of their officers suspected of killing a teacher who died in custody after protests in February, state news agency SUNA said.
The moves appear to be part of a widening crackdown on officials from Bashir’s administration intended to placate protesters who want the Military Council, which took over after toppling Bashir, to hand power to civilians.
Attorney General Al-Walid Sayed Ahmed also ordered the formation of a committee to oversee investigations into crimes involving public funds, corruption and criminal cases related to recent events, SUNA said, citing a statement from his office.
Thirty-nine protesters have been killed since the protests erupted in December, according to official figures. Some opposition groups say as many as 60 died.
The teacher who was arrested after protests died due to injuries caused by a “solid object”, according to a medical report cited by the head of a state investigations committee.
A regional police chief had initially said food poisoning had caused the death of the teacher, which sparked large protests at the time.
Sudan’s public prosecutor has begun investigating Bashir on charges of money laundering and possession of large sums of foreign currency without legal grounds, a judicial source said earlier on Saturday.
The source said that military intelligence had searched Bashir’s home and found suitcases loaded with more than $351,000 and six million euros, as well as five million Sudanese pounds.
“The chief public prosecutor… ordered the (former) president detained and quickly questioned in preparation to put him on trial,” a judicial source told Reuters.
“The public prosecution will question the former president in Kobar prison,” the source added. Bashir has not been questioned yet, said the source. Two of his brothers were also detained on allegations of corruption, the source said.
Relatives could not be immediately reached on Saturday for comment about the investigation.
Separately, a source in Bashir’s NCP said that authorities arrested the acting party head Ahmed Haroun, former first vice president Ali Osman Taha, former Bashir aide Awad al-Jaz, the secretary general of the Islamic movement Al-Zubair Ahmed Hassan and former parliament speaker Ahmed Ibrahim al-Taher.
The source also said parliament speaker Ibrahim Ahmed Omar and presidential aide Nafie Ali Nafie were under house arrest.
Bashir, who is also being sought by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over allegations of genocide in the country’s western Darfur region, was ousted on April 11 by the military following months of protests against his rule and had been held at a presidential residence.
Bashir’s family said this week that the former president had been moved to the high-security Kobar prison in Khartoum.
Hassan Bashir, a professor of political science at the University of Neelain, said the measures against Bashir are intended as a message to other figures associated with his rule that they are not above the law.
“The trial is a step that the military council wants to take to satisfy the protesters by presenting al-Bashir for trial,” he said.
Bashir survived several armed rebellions, economic crises, and attempts by the West to turn him into a pariah during his 30-year rule before he was toppled in a military coup.
At a sit-in outside Sudan’s Ministry of Defence that began on April 6, protesters stood besides posters of Bashir that called on the ICC to put him on trial.
The Sudanese Professionals’ Association, leading the protests, has called for holding Bashir and members of his administration to account, a purge of corruption and cronyism and easing an economic crisis that worsened during his last years in power.
(Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; additional Reporting by Hesham Hajali, Writing by Nadine Awadalla and Michael Georgy; Editing by Alison Williams, William Maclean)