South Africa to probe Sudanese president’s departure

Pretoria, June 16 (IANS) The South African government said that it would enquire into the departure of wanted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir from Johannesburg in defiance of a court order preventing him from doing so.

The announcement was made late on Monday night after Al-Bashir left the country around noon, despite the Pretoria High Court’s order on Sunday that he could not leave South Africa until the urgent application for his arrest was heard, the Independent Online reported.

The Pretoria High Court has demanded an explanation as to why Bashir was allowed to leave South Africa on Monday, despite an interim court order barring him from doing so.

“We request an affidavit to be filed with the registrar of this court within seven days, disclosing the time when he left, the port of entry or exit that he used,” Judge President Dunstan Mlambo said.

“It is of concern to this court that it issues orders and then things just happen in violation of those orders. Be that as it may, that is an order we issue under the circumstances.”

Mlambo made the order on behalf of a full bench of judges presiding over the high profile matter on Monday. He said the three judges were of the view that Bashir should have been detained by South African authorities.

Bashir has been indicted by the ICC for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide against some of the tribes of Sudan’s western Darfur region. Two warrants of arrest were issued against him in 2009 and 2010.

As a member of the ICC, South Africa is obliged to arrest and surrender him to the ICC.

The application before the High Court in Pretoria was brought by the Southern Africa Litigation Centre and wanted South Africa to arrest Bashir who was in the country to attend the 25th session of the African Union (AU) summit taking place in Johannesburg.

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