JOHANNESBURG – A South African court issued an interim order on Sunday preventing Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir from leaving the country, where he was due to attend an African Union summit, until the judge hears an application calling for his arrest.
Al-Bashir is accused in an International Criminal Court arrest warrant of war crimes and crimes against humanity over atrocities in the Darfur conflict.
Judge Hans Fabricuis said if al-Bashir was allowed to leave the country, it would damage South Africa’s reputation, according to Eyewitness News.
However, an arrest in South Africa appears unlikely because President Jacob Zuma’s government has given immunity to any leader or delegate attending the AU summit.
The ICC has called on South African authorities to arrest al-Bashir, who had yet to be seen in public at the summit. Sudanese state media and presidential sources said on Saturday he was heading to Johannesburg.
A statement issued by the court in The Hague asked Pretoria “to spare no effort in ensuring the execution of the arrest warrants.”
It said the court’s members had “deep concern” about the negative consequences if a member state failed to assist in detaining al-Bashir, who was indicted more than a decade ago.