06/07/2017 15:13 SAST | Updated 06/07/2017 16:26 SAST

ICC Finds South Africa Guilty Of Failing To Arrest Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir

Pretoria "had the ability to arrest and surrender him and chose not to do so".

CGTN Africa

The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Thursday found that South Africa had failed to co-operate and was guilty of not arresting Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir when he visited the country in 2015.

South Africa is one of the founding members of the tribunal, which is based in The Hague, Netherlands.

Al-Bashir was in South Africa to attend an African Union summit in Johannesburg. The court said officials "had the ability to arrest and surrender him and it chose not to do so". The Sudanese president left the country by plane despite earlier consultations between the ICC and South African officials to prevent him from doing so.

Lawyers argued at an April hearing at the ICC that there "was no duty under international law on South Africa to arrest Bashir". At the time, the South African government said Al-Bashir was entitled to diplomatic immunity.

The ICC issued two warrants of arrest, between 2009 and 2010, against Al-Bashir. They were for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in connection with widespread violence in Darfur, western Sudan, between government and rebel forces in 2003.

It is said that about 300,000 people were killed and 2,7 million forced to flee their homes.

The decision against South Africa has sent an important message that states cannot negotiate their legal obligations with the court. - Additional reporting by News24