Home | News    Monday 22 June 2015

South African govt agencies were prepared to arrest Sudan’s Bashir during AU summit: report

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June 21, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – South African government agencies drafted plans to apprehend Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir during his participation in the African Union (AU) summit should the High Court issue an order to this effect, according to a news report.

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Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir as they pose for photographers ahead of the African Union summit in Johannesburg June 14, 2015 (REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko)

Bashir’s attendance drew widespread controversy both inside and outside South Africa given his status as an individual wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide allegedly committed in Darfur since 2003.

South Africa, as an ICC member, was theoretically obliged to arrest Bashir but chose not to on the grounds that he enjoys immunity as one of the delegations attending the AU summit.

The government also defied a local judge order asking it to prevent the Sudanese leader from leaving the country until a case brought by Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) to compel the arrest Bashir was heard.

But this order was also ignored by president Jacob Zuma’s cabinet and Bashir managed to fly out few hours before the North Gauteng High Court dismissed government’s immunity arguments and ordered his arrest to surrender him to the ICC.

Government then suggested that Bashir left the country without their knowledge. Per court orders they are required to submit an affidavit next week detailing how Bashir was allowed to return home.

A newspaper report published on Sunday however, suggested that several government agencies were readying to take Bashir into custody.

South Africa’s City Press said that a text message was sent at 6:15 pm local time to National Joint Operations (NATJOINTS) which is comprised of intelligence and security bodies.

“Re Sudan court order. All respective committees at NATJOINTS [National Joint Operations] were given tasks to come up with ops plans by 08:00 tomorrow morning,” the message reads in part.

“If an order is given to arrest Sudanese HoS. [al-Bashir] DHA DG [Department of Home Affairs Director-General] who is currently in court with the litigation personnel will give an instruction thereafter as to what needs to happen. BCOCC [border control operational coordinating committee] will have to ensure that that instruction is given to all ports of entry tonight whilst we are waiting upon DHA instruction.”

"The Home Ministry’s Director General is currently in court with the lawyers and he will instruct on what should happen,".

It is not clear who gave the order to government security agencies to hold back on their operational plans so the Sudanese president could slip out of South Africa safely.

Insiders involved in making the arrangements said the movement schedule, which the department of international relations sends out daily, showed that the department had not been consulted in the “escape plan” or that another department had taken over the arrangements for al-Bashir’s movements. It is not clear which department that is.

City Press said that the operational documentation for the AU summit showed that Bashir left a day earlier.

Bashir was scheduled to take off from O. R. Tambo International Airport on Tuesday June 16 at 11:00 am but ended up leaving from Waterkloof military airbase shortly before noon on Monday June 15.

City Press further said that Bashir’s security detail requested five extra pieces of weaponry in anticipation of any arrest attempt.

“5 firearms and 70 ammunition. They are requesting for 5 additional firearms” the document reads.

South African border police officers stamp such weapons authorizations upon entry into the country, and again when they leave.

South Africa’s Sunday Times said that other parts of the government including the presidency, defense and police ministry were determined to protect Bashir’s stay in South Africa - even if it meant flouting court rulings and undermining the constitution.

A representative of al-Bashir additionally approached Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, who currently chairs the AU, and AU commission chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma – President Zuma’s former wife – to confirm al-Bashir would not be arrested and handed over to the ICC.

But as the court case proceeded, Bashir and his entourage started getting concerned.

The Sunday Times said word had spread that Bashir had been tipped off that he must leave "because the case did not bode well for him", and he was escorted by members of the police force’s Presidential Protection Unit to his plane at a military air base.

“When people were making noise on Sunday that he must be arrested, we just told Bashir to relax,” a security service source was quoted as saying.

“We had given him the assurance. We just told him he was going home and we would deal with the court later,” the source added.

Another source said that senior government ministers at an AU summit gala dinner “were gloating on how they are going to teach the judges a lesson by secretly arranging for Bashir to leave before the matter is heard in court.”

(ST)

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Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.
  • 22 June 2015 06:42, by dinkdong

    If South Africans gov’t was prepared to arrest Bashir during the AU Summit, so why didn’t they do so? Bunch of liars!

    repondre message

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