South African court puts restrictions on Sudan’s president

Jun 14, 2015, 7:36 PM

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A South African judge on Sunday ordered authorities to prevent Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who was in South Africa for an African Union summit, from leaving the country because of an international order for his arrest.

Sudanese officials, however, said al-Bashir had been assured by the South African government that he would be welcome during his visit.

Al-Bashir appeared for a group photo with other African leaders at the summit in Johannesburg on Sunday, wearing a blue three-piece suit, a tie and a smile as cameras flashed. The conference was scheduled to end Monday.

Rabie Abdel-Attie, a senior member of al-Bashir’s National Congress Party, said in Khartoum that al-Bashir will stay at the meeting “until it ends.”

South African Judge Hans Fabricius instructed authorities to prevent al-Bashir from leaving the country because he is wanted by the International Criminal Court.

He said border officials should enforce his decision pending a hearing on whether al-Bashir should be arrested, according to Caroline James, a lawyer with the Southern Africa Litigation Centre rights group. A court is expected to rule on Monday if al-Bashir should be handed over to the International Criminal Court to face charges of alleged genocide and human rights abuses.

Kamal Ismail, the Sudanese state minister for foreign affairs, told reporters in Khartoum that al-Bashir had received assurances from the South African government prior to his visit that he would be welcome and was expected to return to Sudan on schedule.

He said the court order seeking to prevent al-Bashir from leaving South Africa “has nothing to do with the reality on the ground there,” adding that “until now things are normal and there is no threat to the life of the president of the republic.”

The African National Congress, South Africa’s ruling party, said the South African government granted immunity “for all (summit) participants as part of the international norms for countries hosting such gathering of the AU or even the United Nations.”

The party urged the government to challenge the court order, saying African and Eastern European countries “continue to unjustifiably bear the brunt of the decisions of the ICC.”

Even before Sunday’s events, the African Union had asked the ICC to stop proceedings against sitting presidents and said it will not compel any member states to arrest a leader on behalf of the court.

Al-Bashir has traveled abroad before and local authorities had not detained him at the behest of the International Criminal Court, which is based in The Hague, Netherlands.

ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has said South Africa is under a legal obligation to arrest al-Bashir and surrender him to the court. Her office has been in touch with South African authorities on the Sudanese president’s reported visit.

If al-Bashir is not arrested, the matter will be reported to the court’s assembly of states and the United Nations Security Council, which first referred the case of Sudan’s Darfur region to the International Criminal Court in 2005, she said.

The U.S. State Department called on the “Government of South Africa to support the international community’s efforts to provide justice for the victims of these heinous crimes,” in a statement issued Sunday night.

The charges against al-Bashir, who took power in a 1989 coup, stem from reported atrocities in the conflict in Darfur, in which 300,000 people were killed and 2 million displaced in a government campaign, according to United Nations figures.

He has visited Malawi, Kenya, Chad and Congo in the last few years, all of which are International Criminal Court member states. The court doesn’t have any powers to compel countries to arrest him and can only tell them they have a legal obligation to do it.

In March, the International Criminal Court halted proceedings against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta after the prosecution said it did not have enough evidence against him. Kenyatta, who is attending the summit, was charged in 2011 as an “indirect co-perpetrator” in postelection violence that left more than 1,000 people dead in 2007 and 2008. He always maintained his innocence.

Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto is on trial for crimes against humanity in the election-related violence.

___

Associated Press writer Mohamed Osman contributed to this report from Khartoum, Sudan.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

World News

This illustration made available by Johns Hopkins APL and NASA depicts NASA's DART probe, upper rig...
Associated Press

NASA spacecraft smashes into asteroid for defense test

A NASA spacecraft rammed an asteroid at blistering speed Monday in an unprecedented dress rehearsal for the day a killer rock menaces Earth.
8 days ago
In this Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, photo taken by an individual not employed by the Associated Pres...
Associated Press

At least 9 killed as Iran protests over woman’s death spread

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Clashes between Iranian security forces and protesters angry over the death of a 22-year-old woman in police custody have killed at least nine people since the violence erupted over the weekend, according to a tally Thursday by The Associated Press. The scope of Iran’s ongoing unrest, the worst in […]
12 days ago
Royal guards stand by the coffin of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, as members of the public pay thei...
Associated Press

Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral | Live updates

WINDSOR, England — Queen Elizabeth II has been interred together with her late husband, Prince Philip, at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, officials said. The royal family’s official website said the Dean of Windsor conducted a private burial ceremony late Monday at the King George VI Memorial Chapel, an annex inside St. George’s, a […]
15 days ago
Britain's King Charles III and Camilla, the Queen Consort leave after a Service of Prayer and Refle...
Associated Press

Live updates: Queen’s funeral police effort is biggest ever

LONDON — London police say Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral on Monday will be the largest single policing event the force has ever handled. Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Cundy said Friday that the massive police operation surpasses even the 2012 Olympics, which were held in the British capital, and the celebrations earlier this year […]
18 days ago
In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a medical worker takes a swab sample from a resident ...
Associated Press

WHO: COVID end ‘in sight,’ deaths at lowest since March 2020

GENEVA (AP) — The head of the World Health Organization said Wednesday that the number of coronavirus deaths worldwide last week was the lowest reported in the pandemic since March 2020, marking what could be a turning point in the years-long global outbreak. At a press briefing in Geneva, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said […]
20 days ago
Kenya's new president William Ruto signs the book of condolence for Queen Elizabeth II at the resid...
Associated Press

Live updates: Public views queen’s coffin in ancient hall

LONDON — Members of the public who waited outside for many hours are filing through Westminster Hall to pay their respects at the queen’s coffin, which is lying in state there. People are filing past each side of the coffin, most pausing for a brief moment to bow their heads. Some wiped their eyes while […]
20 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
...
Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
...
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
South African court puts restrictions on Sudan’s president