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Govt officials in al-Bashir saga face court action

The SCA ruled that either govt or its counsel misled the court, which allowed al-Bashir to flee SA.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Picture: Ashraf Shazly/AFP.

PRETORIA - Criminal contempt of court proceedings loom for senior government officials and their advocates in the wake of findings that they misled the High Court in the matter involving Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) yesterday dismissed government's challenge of a High Court ruling, which found its failure to detain al-Bashir when he was in South Africa last year was unlawful.

The court ruled that either government or its counsel misled the court, which allowed al-Bashir to flee the country in contravention of a court order.

The SCA described government and its counsel's conduct as disgraceful.

The Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC)'s Angela Mudukti says no one is above the law.

"Heads of state, the executive, arms of government and normal citizens need to obey court orders, otherwise we are not maintaining this Constitution and democracy we speak so highly of."

The Helen Suzman Foundation's Francis Antonie says the court was clear about government's obligations to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

"There are constitutional and international obligations, which government has violated."

The Democratic Alliance (DA) says government flagrantly broke the law.