Cape Town, March 15 (IANS) South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal on Tuesday ruled that the government “acted unlawfully” by allowing South Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to leave the country during a summit last year despite an International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrant.
“The decision by the South African government not to arrest al-Bashir was inconsistent with law,” Xinhua quoted judge Carole Lewis as saying, dismissing an appeal from the government.
The Pretoria High Court ruled earlier that under the ICC arrest warrant against al-Bashir, South Africa, a signatory to the Rome Statute which created the ICC, should arrest him when he was in South Africa.
Al-Bashir was attending an African Union (AU) summit in Johannesburg in June last year.
The ICC accuses al-Bashir of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur, South Sudan — charges he denies.
The South African government has, however, defended its decision, saying it has obligations to the AU, which bans the arrest of any sitting head of state in African countries.
The AU has accused the ICC of deliberately singling out African leaders as targets.