Judge Essam El-Din Mohamed Ibrahim apologized for the dismissal of the trial sessions of the ousted Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir for health reasons, as he put it.
Ibrahim had followed up on Al-Bashir’s trial along with his former two deputies and other Sudanese officials accused of plotting and carrying out a military coup, seizing power by force and undermining the constitutional order, in what was known as the coup of June 30, 1989.
“This is my last session in this court. I am resigning for health reasons,” the judge said in a session broadcast on state television, explaining that he suffers “from high blood pressure and the doctors advised me to avoid any tension.”
The court, consisting of the president and two other judges, held 11 sessions.
Ibrahim thanked Chief Justice Nemat Muhammad Abdullah for accepting his decision to step down. He said, “The next session will be on the fifth of next January, and I am sure which of the colleagues will handle the case.”
This trial – unprecedented in the Arab world, where a successful coup perpetrator has not been tried in recent history – began on July 21.
Omar al-Bashir (76 years) and 27 accused, military and civilian, face the death penalty to overthrow the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi 31 years ago.
The attorneys of the 191 defendants presented several procedural arguments for delaying the trial, including that the courtroom was not spacious enough to respect social distancing.
Al-Bashir is also wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity during the conflict in the Darfur region.
Al-Bashir’s coup was the third since Sudan’s independence in 1956, after two coups by Ibrahim Abboud (1959-1964) and Jaafar al-Nimeiri (1969-1985).
The Sudanese army overthrew al-Bashir in April 2019, following months of popular protests.
The power in Sudan is currently assumed by a transitional authority for a period of 3 years, after which general elections will be held.