War Crimes: S’African Court Rules On Al-Bashir’s Arrest Monday | Independent Newspapers Limited
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War Crimes: S’African Court Rules On Al-Bashir’s Arrest Monday

Posted: Jun 14, 2015 at 5:47 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)


A South African judge on Sunday, June 14, 2015 banned Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir from leaving the country after the International Criminal Court (ICC) called for arrest at a summit in Johannesburg.

High Court Judge Hans Fabricius in Pretoria, South Africa, on Sunday postponed the ruling on whether Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir should be arrested until 11.30 a.m. on Monday morning.

Al-Bashir is in South Africa for the African Union (AU) summit going on in Sandton. Bashir, who is wanted for alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in the Darfur conflict, mostly travels to countries that have not joined the ICC, but South Africa is a signatory of the court’s statutes.

However, the South African government is believed to be against the urgent application by the Southern African Litigation Centre, citing South Africa’s obligations as a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

Government had earlier promised all African leaders immunity to attend the summit.

Fabricius said that the court’s earlier order prohibits al-Bashir from leaving the country until he hands down his final ruling.

“The following order is made to President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan, he is prohibited from leaving the Republic of South Africa until the final order is made in this application and the respondents are directed to take all necessary steps to prevent him from doing so,” he said.

The ruling was the first time any court has prevented a head of state from leaving a country following a request by the ICC, but Khartoum remained defiant, insisting Bashir would return home.

The Southern African Litigation Centre, a legal rights group, had launched an urgent application in the Pretoria High Court to force authorities to arrest Bashir on the opening day of the African Union summit.

“President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan is prohibited from leaving the Republic of South Africa until the final order is made in this application,” Judge Hans Fabricius said in his ruling.

However, despite the arrest calls, Bashir joined a group photograph of leaders at the summit.

Wearing a blue suit, he stood in the front row for the photograph along with South African host, President Jacob Zuma, and Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, who is the chair of the 54-member group.

In Khartoum, Sudan’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kamal Ismail, said Bashir would return home after the main session of the summit.

“Until now, things are normal and there is no risk to his Excellency, the president,” he said at a news conference.

Mugabe has previously urged African leaders to pull out of the ICC which critics accuse of targeting Africa.

The ICC said in a statement from its headquarters in The Hague that it “calls on South Africa… to spare no effort in ensuring the execution of the arrest warrants” against Bashir.

It said South Africa diplomats had been pressed last month to arrest Bashir if he attends the summit, but that they replied they faced “competing obligations” over the issue.

Bashir, 71, seized power in Sudan in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989.