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‘Failure to arrest al-Bashir is a violation of the rule of law’

Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir left the South Africa on Monday in defiance of a court order.

FILE: Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - The Johannesburg Bar Council says government's decision to allow Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir to leave the country in possible defiance of a court order is an 'unprecedented violation of the rule of law'.

On Monday al-Bashir left the Waterkloof Air Force Base as the High Court in Pretoria was deciding whether to have him arrested and sent to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The Johannesburg Society of Advocate's chair, Advocate Dali Mpofu, says this decision could mark a tipping point.

"It's scary. Remember when the public protector's remedial action came, it was said that it wasn't a court order so we didn't have to obey it. Now here's a court order, what is the excuse now? That's the problem."

And he says there's no way government couldn't know al-Bashir was leaving.

"We definitely cannot believe that a person could leave Sandton, drive to Waterkloof, get processed into an aeroplane with clearance; there is no plane that just leaves South Africa without clearance."

Mpofu says there must now be a full investigation into exactly what happened.

The council also says that government is able to disobey court orders and get away with it, it's the end of our constitutional democracy.

LISTEN: Two perspectives on the ICC & the al-Bashir evasion

Yesterday chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said he couldn't comment on the case as it could come before him at the Constitutional Court.

WATCH: Former South Sudan VP tackles al-Bashir controversy

ICC CALLS ON SA TO ARREST AL-BASHIR

The Sudanese president was welcomed into South Africa to attend the AU summit in Sandton.

The ICC, to which South Africa's a signatory, had said no effort should be spared detaining him.

Al-Bashir is wanted by the ICC to face charges of genocide for more than 300,000 deaths in West Sudan.

This is his 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.

However, the AU took a decision against the prosecution of sitting presidents and rallied against the ICC for unfairly targeting Africans.