As Bashir Leaves, South African Court Calls for His Arrest

PRETORIA/KHARTOUM (Reuters) -
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir (C) waves to his supporters at the airport in the capital Khartoum, Sudan Monday, on arrival after attending an African Union conference in Johannesburg South Africa.  (REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir (C) waves to his supporters at the airport in the capital Khartoum, Sudan Monday, on arrival after attending an African Union conference in Johannesburg South Africa. (REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir flew out of South Africa on Monday in defiance of a Pretoria court that later said he should have been arrested to face genocide charges at the International Criminal Court.

Despite a legal order for him to stay in the country ahead of the ruling on his detention, the government let Bashir leave unhindered.

Bashir was indicted by the ICC over war crimes and crimes against humanity but South Africa gave him immunity along with all delegates attending an AU summit in Johannesburg this week.

As a signatory, South Africa was obliged to implement arrest warrants. The decision to let Bashir leave was an affirmation of shifting diplomatic priorities for the government. African interests trumped those of the West.

It also represented a blow for the Hague-based ICC, which has convicted just two minor African warlords since it started work in 2002 and has struggled to create accountability for those who are too powerful to be tried at home.

Government lawyer William Mokhari said the home affairs department would be investigating Bashir’s departure.