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Government confirms it may consider ICC withdrawal

Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe tells journalists this would be a "last resort"

Minister in the Presidency, Jeff Radebe. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - Government said South Africa may, as a last resort, consider withdrawing from the International Criminal Court in the wake of the Omar Al-Bashir debacle.

The Sudanese leader slipped out of the country last week in contravention of a High Court order which blocked his department.

Subsequent media reports claimed President Jacob Zuma and his senior Ministers plotted Al-Bashir's safe exit.

Minister in the presidency Jeff Radebe said a decision to withdraw from the ICC will only be taken after South Africa exhausts all other remedies.

He said cabinet has decided to review the country's participation in the Rome Statute of the ICC.

Radebe said the international court, before finalising consultations with government, decided South Africa was obligated to arrest and surrender Omar Al-Bashir.

"It appears that the ICC had not extended the invitation to South Africa to consult with it in terms of article 97 in good faith."

Radebe said it's abundantly clear that the International Criminal Court (ICC) knew that South Africa would have problems executing a warrant of arrest for Omar Al-Bashir because of its international obligations.

Government explained why it decided to review its participation in the Rome Statute of the ICC.

Speaking during a post cabinet briefing in Cape Town, Radebe said South Africa had to balance its obligations to the ICC and the African Union.

"South Africa also wants to understand from the ICC what its obligations are in terms of article 98(2) to a requested state, which can't in violation of an international obligation execute a warrant of arrest. South Africa also intends raising the matter at the next meeting of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court."

HIGH COURT

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 Al-Bashir's exit from South Africa.

Judge President Dunstan Mlambo ordered new prosecutions boss Shaun Abrahams, 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 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.