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SALC slams govt's response to al-Bashir debacle

SALC says it is surprised that government thinks its explanation is good enough.

FILE: Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir attending the opening session of the African Union Summit in Abuja in July 2013. Picture: AFP.

PRETORIA - The Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC) has described government's explanation for how Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir fled the country as wholly inadequate.

The Home Affairs Director-General Mkuseli Apleni on Thursday submitted an affidavit to the High Court saying that al-Bashir left undetected because his delegation failed to produce his passport at immigration control.

The High Court in Pretoria had ordered government to explain the circumstances that led to al-Bashir's exit.

The centre's Angela Mudukuti is surprised that government thinks its explanation is good enough.

"We're severely disappointed at this response, it's wholly inadequate and to be quite frank, it doesn't make a lot of sense and we hope to get something more substantive."

She said contempt of court proceedings remain an option for consideration.

"We did want to spend time considering options and also wait and see what the NPA decides to do and what the court itself decides to do seeing that all of these players are involved in this."

It's unclear at this stage whether judge president Dunstan Mlambo will seek further information from government.

NO STAMP IN PASSPORT

Apleni said Sudanese representatives informed the Department of International Relations and Coorperation (Dirco) they intended moving from the Sandton Convention Centre to the Waterkloof Air Force Base.

He says Dirco then informed the police to facilitate the movement.

Alpeni said the batch of passports was checked by immigration officers at the air base who confirmed al-Bashir's documents were not among them.

The documents were then processed and returned to the Sudanese representatives before they departed.

ICC/SA CONSULTATION

Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe accused the International Criminal Court (ICC) of not consulting with South Africa in good faith.

The ICC wanted government to execute a warrant of arrest against al-Bashir, a move which put South Africa at risk of violating its obligations to the African Union (AU).

Radebe said government intends holding formal talks with the ICC to discuss its concerns with the Rome Statute.

"We have challenges with the ICC and those matters will be ventilated as we go forward. Government will be appointing a group of ministers that are going to be interacting with the ICC. We firmly believe that the consultation had not been taken in good faith."

Government said the court, before finalising consultations with government, decided South Africa was obligated to arrest al-Bashir when he attended the AU Summit in Johannesburg.

He said the international court knew South Africa would have difficulty arresting the Sudanese leader because of its obligations to the AU.

Radebe said South Africa may, as a last resort, consider withdrawing from the ICC in the wake of the al-Bashir debacle.

He added that a decision to withdraw from the ICC will only be taken after South Africa exhausts all other remedies.

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