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Al-Bashir saga: Govt hopeful it can convince ConCourt

Government announced that it would seek leave to appeal the SCA’s ruling last month.

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

PRETORIA - The government believes it has a reasonable prospect of convincing the Constitutional Court that it was correct not to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and hand him over to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

It announced today that it would seek leave to appeal the Supreme Court of Appeal's (SCA) ruling last month that the failure to arrest al-Bashir was unlawful and inconsistent with the country's obligation to the ICC.

The Sudanese president was in South Africa in June to attend the African Union Summit being held in Johannesburg, he slipped out of the country in contravention of a court order.

Al-Bashir is wanted by the ICC on charges including genocide and crimes against humanity.

The government's Mthunzi Mhaga says after obtaining legal advice, it wants the highest court in the country to rule on matters it believes the SCA did not settle.

"We believe that the interpretation of both the customary national law and the domestic law in so far as they relate to immunity granted to foreign sitting head of states needs a pronouncement by the Constitutional Court."

The SCA found that the country's obligation to the ICC trumped diplomatic immunity, even if the person was a sitting head of state.

It also found that South Africa's Constitution compelled the government to act against those accused of crimes against humanity.

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