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Supreme Court expected to rule on al-Bashir matter today

Govt previously appealed a High Court ruling that SA was legally obligated to arrest the Sudanese president.

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

PRETORIA - The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein will this morning deliver its judgment in the case of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

Government last month appealed the High Court's ruling that the adoption of the Rome Statute legally obligated South Africa to arrest al-Bashir when he visited the country last year.

The Sudanese president was in South Africa in June to attend the African Union (AU) Summit being held in Johannesburg.

He slipped out of the country in contravention of a court order.

Al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges including genocide and crimes against humanity.

The state argued that al-Bashir was protected from arrest by provisions of South Africa's Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities Act, because he is a sitting head of state.

It further argued that there has been no development in international law that has abolished this interpretation.

However, the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) told the court that the legislation which implemented the Rome Statute placed an obligation on the state to execute the warrant of arrest.

It added that the provisions are clear and are not trumped by the act.

The Helen Suzman Foundation weighed in, arguing that the Constitution placed a further burden on the state to ensure those accused of crimes against humanity are brought to book.

The judgment is expected at 9:45 this morning.