Wanted Sudan leader Bashir flies out of South Africa

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by BBC

Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted for war crimes, has left South Africa, pre-empting a court ruling over an international warrant for his arrest.

Omar al-Bashir, pictured earlier this week, is wanted by the ICC for war crimes

Omar al-Bashir, pictured earlier this week, is wanted by the ICC for war crimes

The Pretoria High Court was due to decide whether he should be handed over to the International Criminal Court which charged him with the crimes.

Mr Bashir was in Johannesburg for an African Union (AU) summit.

A news conference will be held in Sudan’s capital upon his arrival.

On Sunday, a judge barred Mr Bashir from leaving until the arrest application had been considered.

Mr Bashir is accused of committing war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide during the Darfur conflict.

The UN says that about 300,000 people in Sudan have died and more than two million have fled their homes since fighting began in 2003.

Government forces and allied Arab militias are accused of targeting black African civilians in the fight against the rebels.

At the hearing at the Pretoria High Court, the lawyer representing the South African government says Mr Bashir’s name was not on the list of passengers who took off earlier.

On Monday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the ICC’s warrant for the arrest of Mr Bashir must be implemented by countries who have signed up to the court’s statutes.

As a member of the ICC, South Africa is obliged to arrest anyone charged by the court. Before the summit, the ICC issued a press statement urging the South African government “to spare no effort in ensuring the execution of the arrest warrant”.

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Darfur conflict: Key points

  • Fighting began in 2003 when black African rebels in Darfur took up arms, accusing the government of neglecting them
  • Pro-government Arab militias, known as Janjaweed, accused of responding with ethnic cleansing
  • In 2008, the UN estimated that 300,000 people had died because of the war, though Khartoum disputes the figure
  • More than 1.4 million people have fled their homes
  • In 2010, the ICC charged President Bashir with genocide in relation to the Darfur conflict
  • There have been several peace processes, but fighting continues, with numerous armed groups now active
Darfur map

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