Court critical of South Africa for letting al-Bashir leave

Omar al-Bashir

Omar al-Bashir

A South African court said Wednesday that the country acted unlawfully by allowing Sudanese President, Omar al-Bashir, leave the country on June 15.

Al-Bashir left the country after attending two-day African Union Summit in Johannesburg in spite of arrest warrant issued for him by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

He left shortly before the court in Pretoria ordered his arrest on a long-standing international warrant on war crimes and genocide charges.

The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria said it would invite the National Prosecution Authority to decide if criminal charges should be preferred against the government.

Presiding judge, Dunstan Mlambo rejected the argument of the government that agreements relating to the AU summit proffered immunity to the attending heads of state.

While the court in Pretoria was still considering whether to order al-Bashir’s arrest, the government misinformed it that the Sudanese leader was still in the country, Mlambo said.

The judge questioned how the plane carrying al-Bashir could have left South Africa without the knowledge of the government.

The government was expected to file an answer in the next few days.

The ICC issued an arrest warrant for al-Bashir in 2009 based on subjects relating to the conflict in the Sudanese region of Darfur.

Al-Bashir took power in a bloodless coup in 1989 and has won three elections since.
In the last poll, conducted in April and boycotted by the main opposition parties, official results showed him winning 94 per cent of the vote.

The United Nations says 300,000 people are estimated to have been killed during the past decade in Darfur, where fighting broke out in 2003 between government forces and armed rebel groups.

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