Govt in hot water with High Court over al-Bashir debacle

Government is expected to file an affidavit explaining its case today.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir (C), Congo’s president Denis Sasso-Nguesso (R) and Prime Minister of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic Abdelkader Taleb Oumar (L) pose during a photo call at the 25th AU Summit in Sandton on 14 June 2015. Picture: AFP

PRETORIA - A dozen senior government officials including ministers and the National Police Commissioner face possible criminal prosecution if it is found that they played any part in facilitating President Omar al-Bashir's exit from South Africa.

Judge President Dunstan Mlambo ordered the prosecutions boss to consider contempt of court charges when he delivered the reasons for his earlier ruling that al-Bashir be arrested and handed over to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Mlambo made the ruling last Monday, but it emerged that the Sudanese president had already left the country in direct violation of a previous interim court order.

The ministers of justice, police as well as international relations will all have to explain their role in al-Bashir's great escape.

Mlambo was clear on what the court believes happened.

"The departure of President al-Bashir from this country before the finalisation of this application, objectively viewed, demonstrates non-compliance with that order."

University of Cape Town Professor David Unterhalter says, "It if was to be found that a minister or any other official, with intent, violated the court order, then a criminal prosecution for contempt is warranted."

Government is expected to file an affidavit explaining its case today.