By Calvin Osiemo
Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir has defied a court order that had earlier stopped him from leaving South Africa awaiting a court ruling on an application on his arrest. The Sudanese President was in South Africa attending the African Union Summit alongside other heads of states. Southern African Litigation Center, a rights group had filed an application in Pretoria court seeking the help of the South African Government to arrest and present Bashir to the International Criminal Court where he has been indicted with war crimes and crimes against humanity. Bashir has been accused of fueling the massive Darfur conflict which left over 300,000 people dead and another 2 million displaced from their homes.
Judge Hans Fabricius who was handling the case had asked the government to ensure that all points of exit from the country are secured not to allow the Sudanese President to leave the country until the judge has made a decision but Bashir went on to defy the court order and left. South African Media had reported that a Sudanese plane was seen leaving Waterkloof Air force Base at around 1000GMT.
The Hague-based court has in the past been accused by many African heads of state of being biased against African states. The Ruling party in South Africa, African National Congress is the latest to accuse the court of unfair treatment and said it is no longer useful. The sentiments come despite the fact that South Africa is a signatory state and is mandated to implement warrants of arrests issued by the ICC.
Speaking to the media, Sudan’s State Minister Yasser Youssef said that the President had indeed left South Africa and was expected to land in Khartoum at around 1530GMT. The international community has shown its disappointment with South Africa for not arresting the leader. The ICC has criticized South Africa for according the president all the privileges instead of arresting him.
Addressing journalists in Geneva, U.N Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said it is important for states to honor and respect the authority of the International Criminal Court.
“The International Criminal Court’s warrant for the arrest of President Al-Bashir on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes is a matter I take extremely seriously. The authority of the ICC must be respected and its decision implemented,” said Ban Ki-moon.