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Urgent court application for Omar al-Bashir's arrest

The urgent application brought by human rights watchdog groups will be heard by Judge Hans Fabricius.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir speaks during a press conference on 30 November, 2014. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - The High Court in Pretoria will hear an urgent application for the arrest of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir who has arrived for the African Union (AU) summit in Sandton on Sunday.

This is the Sudanese president's first visit to South Africa since the warrant for his arrest was issued.

Previously South Africa discouraged him from entering the country saying it would be obliged to arrest him.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has two outstanding warrants against his alleging genocide in Sudan's western province of Darfur.

The urgent application brought by human rights watchdog groups will be heard by Judge Hans Fabricius.

Prosecutors had been prepared to arrest al-Bashir when he arrived in South Africa as they are obliged to do as signatories of the Rome Treaty establishing the ICC.

However, last Thursday, government gazetted a provision under the Diplomatic Immunities and Protection Act giving safe passage to any leader or delegate attending the AU summit.

The urgent application is seeking to have this overturned.

MORE CALLS FOR AL-BASHIR'S ARREST

At the same time, Amnesty International says it would be a tragedy if South Africa allowed the Sudanese president to attend the summit and leave the country without arrest.

The civil society has joined opposition parties and the ICC's call to arrest al-Bashir.

Amnesty International's Netsanet Belay says South Africa has a duty to arrest him.

"It has a Constitutional obligation to make sure the fugitive is arrested and failure to do so is a serious bridge of its duty."