PRETORIA (Reuters/AP)—Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over crimes against humanity—including genocide—has left South Africa, defying a Pretoria court order for him to remain in the country until it ruled on a decision for his arrest.
Bashir, who was attending an African Union (AU) summit in South Africa, was issued arrest warrants in 2009 and 2010 by the ICC for planning genocide and other atrocities in a campaign to crush a revolt in the Darfur region of Sudan.
According to the UN, the conflict in Darfur has killed as many as 300,000 people and displaced 2 million. Bashir has long denied the accusations levied against him and has rejected the international court’s authority.
A local South African TV station reported that South African High court judges on Monday ordered that Bashir be arrested due to concerns that an order by the court to have Bashir kept in the country was not complied with.
Sudan’s State Minister Yasser Youssef, however, has told Reuters that Bashir left South Africa and was due to land in the Sudanese capital Khartoum at around 6:30 p.m. local time.
Local media reported seeing a Sudanese plane leaving Waterkloof Air Force Base earlier in the day. The South African court had asked the government to inform all ports of exit not to allow the veteran Sudanese leader to leave.
South African President Jacob Zuma’s government had given immunity to Bashir and all other delegates attending the AU summit.
South Africa is an ICC signatory and therefore obliged to implement arrest warrants. However the African National Congress, South Africa’s governing political party, on Sunday accused the Hague-based court of being biased against Africans and said it was “no longer useful.”
“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,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters in Geneva. “The authority of the ICC must be respected and its decision implemented,” Ban added.