Bashir has reportedly left SA ahead of arrest bid

2015-06-14 19:54
(Morné Booij-Liewes)

(Morné Booij-Liewes)

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Johannesburg - Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has left South Africa and is returning to Khartoum, Bloomberg reported on Sunday. 

"The president finished his business in South Africa and is coming back home," Sudanese Information Minister Ahmed Bilal Osman told Bloomberg by phone.

"Al-Bashir went to South Africa with complete guarantees that it will respect the African position regarding the ICC."

Al-Bashir's reported departure came against an order by the High Court in Pretoria made earlier on Sunday barring the Sudanese president from leaving the country.

The report of al-Bashir's departure has yet to be independently verified by News24.

Justice department spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga told News24: "We are not aware of that. I've just heard it in the media".

The international relations department directed queries to spokesperson Clayson Monyela, whose phone went straight to voice mail. The home affairs department said earlier on Sunday that queries should be directed to the justice department. 

Judge Hans Fabricius had ordered that the home affairs department ensure that all points of entry and exit be informed that al-Bashir is not allowed to leave until the SA Litigation Centre's (SALC) application that South Africa arrest him is concluded.

Following Fabricius' order, justice department spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said South Africa would take reasonable steps to ensure that officials at all points of entry and exit were told of the court order. 

''In so far is practically possible reasonable steps will be taken to comply with the interim order given the fact that we will now be preparing our arguments for the main argument tomorrow on the substantive issues,'' Mhaga said outside court.

The SALC had applied for South Africa to enforce two warrants for al-Bashir's arrest issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2009 and 2010 relating to alleged war crimes and genocide. It said that on Saturday the ICC ruled that diplomatic immunity did not apply to heads of state wanted for trial and issued a plea to South Africa to arrest him to stand trial.

The application started after 11:00 on Sunday with officials hastily brought to court in Pretoria, but the government said it was not ready because of the short notice, having received papers at around 10:30.

It asked for an adjournment, but the SALC, fearing that al-Bashir would leave in the meantime, obtained an interim order preventing his departure.

Read more on:    omar al-bashir  |  johannesburg  |  au summit

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