Date set for Bashir case

2015-06-22 19:55
(Ashraf Shazly, AFP)

(Ashraf Shazly, AFP)

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Johannesburg - The findings of an investigation into how Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir managed to leave South Africa while a court order blocking his departure was in place is expected to be heard in the High Court in Pretoria on Wednesday.

''We need to see what emerges from the court date,'' said Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, executive director at the SA Litigation Centre (SALC) which brought the application for al-Bashir to be detained, and handed to the International Criminal Court for alleged genocide and crimes against humanity.

Al-Bashir visited South Africa for the African Union Summit on Saturday June 13 and on the Sunday, June 14, the court heard an urgent application by SALC that South Africa was compelled to arrest him because it is a party to the Rome Statute.

Government opposed the application but said it was not ready to argue the case and so Judge Hans Fabricius allowed a postponement to Monday. To ensure that al-Bashir did not leave until the court made a finding, SALC obtained an order that all points of entry and exit in South Africa not allow his departure.

However, on Monday al-Bashir managed to leave. According to Netwerk24 he left from Waterkloof Airforce Base before the three judges hearing the matter ruled that he should be detained for handover to the ICC.

After the ruling, the court was told by the government's attorney of al-Bashir's departure, prompting Judge Dunstan Mlambo to express concern over the apparent violation of Sunday's order.

The government had opposed the application and could face a contempt of court order. According to minutes of a government meeting, delegates to the AU summit enjoyed diplomatic immunity.

Mlambo gave the government seven days to say how al-Bashir had managed to leave. In turn, the court would provide reasons for its decision that he be detained.

SALC said it would decide what to do after seeing what the government presents its papers on Wednesday. 

''Contempt of court proceedings are under consideration,'' SALC said in an explainer on its website.

Reacting to the turn of events, the International Bar Association (IBA) said there needs to be a reaffirmation by the international community to help the courts enforce its decisions and arrest warrants.

Major political powers including the United States, Russia, China and Israel also need to join the ICC, the IBA said.

Read more on:    au  |  salc  |  omar al- bashir  |  pretoria

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