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‘Precedent-setting al-Bashir court bid will spark negative consequences’

After being denied leave to appeal the al-Bashir matter, govt has approached SCA in Bloemfontein.

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

BLOEMFONTEIN - Government has argued that the precedent-setting nature of the court order involving Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir will have far reaching negative consequences and could affect other heads of state.

In June last year the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) successfully launched an application to compel government to arrest al-Bashir when he attended the African Union (AU) Summit in Johannesburg, but the order was ignored.

After being denied leave to appeal by a full bench in the High Court, government has approached the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein.

Advocate Jeremy Gauntlett has argued the High Court's order did not apply specifically to al-Bashir, which means it could apply to any other head of state.

The court found government's failure to act on an International Criminal Court (ICC) warrant was unconstitutional.

Among the reasons the court denied the state's appeal was that it was purely academic, because al-Bashir was no longer in South Africa.

But Gauntlett says the non-specific nature of the order means the appeal is not academic, because it could give effect to future court action.

The advocate further argued the principles of law were not properly discussed in the High Court and wants the SCA to consider them.

Government says al-Bashir was subject to immunity, and it had no legal duty to arrest him.

Al-Bashir is wanted for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.