How al Bashir snuck out of SA

While plans had been put in place for the pos­si­ble ar­rest of Omar al-Bashir, the Su­danese pres­i­dent snuck out of SA in dra­matic fash­ion last Mon­day, es­corted by po­lice, in de­fi­ance of a court or­der

CityPress - - Front Page - ERIKA GIB­SON news@city­press.co.za

Last Sun­day, gov­ern­ment se­cu­rity agen­cies re­ceived in­struc­tions to pre­pare for the pos­si­ble ar­rest of Su­danese Pres­i­dent Omar al-Bashir af­ter the North­ern Gaut­eng High Court or­dered that he should not be al­lowed to leave the coun­try.

But the Sun­danese leader left the coun­try in dra­matic fash­ion on Mon­day, es­corted by the South African po­lice from the Sand­ton Con­ven­tion Cen­tre, where the African Union heads of gov­ern­ment sum­mit was tak­ing place, to the Waterk­loof Air Force Base, where his I1-62 jet was wait­ing.

The jet had ear­lier been moved from OR Tambo In­ter­na­tional Air­port to Waterk­loof, where it was hid­den in one of the hangars.

Mo­ments later, he was in the air, avoid­ing ar­rested and trans­fer to the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court (ICC) for trial. Now ques­tions re­main as to which of the state se­cu­rity agen­cies took over his travel ar­range­ments and pre­pared for his se­cret exit.

Gov­ern­ment se­cu­rity agen­cies were in­formed by SMS last Sun­day at 6pm to pre­pare plans for the pos­si­ble ar­rest of Su­dan’s pres­i­dent, Omar al-Bashir, should he try to sneak out of the coun­try,ry, or if court ac­tion suc­ceeded. But five hours later, al-Bashir’s I1-62 jet was quickly and on short no­tice moved from OR Tambo In­ter­na­tional Air­port to Air Force Base Waterk­loof. The plane was hid­den in one of thee hangars of the VIP squadron, far away from where the other visi­tors’ planes were parked.

The next day, al-Bashir’s con­voy raced off fromm the African Union heads-of-gov­ern­ment sum­mit in Sand­ton, es­corted by po­lice, olice, to Waterk­loof.

While on his way there, the plane had been started and d the crew had al­ready been granted per­mis­sion by the con­trol tower to take off. By 11.45am the plane was in the air.

Al-Bashir’s dra­matic es­capepe took place a day af­ter Northth Gaut­eng High Court Judge Hans Fabricius handed down wn an in­terim or­der for­bid­ding g the Su­danese leader – wanted by the In­ter­na­tion­alal Crim­i­nal Court (ICC) for geno­cide – from leav­ing the e coun­try.

The SMS sent to gov­ern­ment­ment se­cu­rity agen­cies in­form­ing g them to pre­pare plans to ar­rest al-Bashir read:ad “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. 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 hap­pen.n. BCOCC [bor­der con­trol op­er­ati­ional op­er­a­tional co­or­di­nat­ing comm com­mit­tee] will have to en­sure that t that in­struc­tion is given to all po ports of en­try tonight whilst we ar are wait­ing upon DHA in­stru in­struc­tion.”

Que Ques­tions now re­main as to who gaveg the or­der to gover gov­ern­ment se­cu­rity agen­cies to ho hold back on their oper op­er­a­tional plans so the Suda Su­danese pres­i­dent could slip out of South Africa safely.

Th The ini­tial move­ment sched­ule for the AU sum­mit that was sent to all rel­e­vant agen­cies and air­ports by the depart­ment of in­ter­na­tion­al­in­ter re­la­tions and co­op­er­a­tion (Dirco), con­firms that al-Bashir was ex­pected at OR Tambo around 3.10pm last Satur­day. He even­tu­ally landed about two hours later.

The same sched­ule gives al-Bashir’s de­par­ture time as Tues­day, 16 June, at around 11am from OR Tambo. It didn’t say how many peo­ple would be in his party.

It has also emerged that al-Bashir’s body­guards dou­bled their re­quire­ments for the firearms they needed to bring into South Africa.

They first asked for per­mis­sion for five weapons, but later re­quested au­tho­ri­sa­tion for five more.

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

All 12 de­part­ments in­volved in what is now seem­ingly a great es­cape, who were named as re­spon­dents in the ur­gent ap­pli­ca­tion last week­end in the North Gaut­eng High Court to have al-Bashir ar­rested in ac­cor­dance with a war­rant is­sued by the ICC, have ques­tions hang­ing over them.

In the high court on Mon­day, where the ap­pli­ca­tion was con­tin­u­ing, Ad­vo­cate Wil­liam Mokhari – for the state – only ad­mit­ted two hours af­ter al-Bashir’s plane had left South African airspace that the Su­danese pres­i­dent was in­deed gone.

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.

Gov­ern­ment faced a bar­rage of crit­i­cism this week for fail­ing to act on the court or­der that alBashir be ar­rested. The ICC and UN Sec­re­taryGen­eral Ban Ki-moon had called on South Africa to hon­our its obli­ga­tions in terms of the Rome Statute and ar­rest al-Bashir.

Kaa­jal Ram­jathan-Keogh of the South­ern Africa Lit­i­ga­tion Cen­tre, which in­sti­tuted the court ac­tion, said they were dis­ap­pointed gov­ern­ment had not acted on the or­der granted by the court.

“That is a huge fail­ure and we are deeply dis­ap­pointed. We had full faith in the South African gov­ern­ment that they would com­ply with their obli­ga­tions.

“So we waited un­til he [al-Bashir] ar­rived in the coun­try and there was proof that the South African gov­ern­ment had not ar­rested him. We then pro­ceeded with the court pro­ceed­ings,” she said.

Ram­jathan-Keogh said the state’s de­ci­sion to op­pose their ap­pli­ca­tion took them by sur­prise.

“We didn’t an­tic­i­pate the state would op­pose the ap­pli­ca­tion. We ex­pected that one of the even­tu­al­i­ties would be that the state would come to court and say they were pre­par­ing to ar­rest him – so the ap­pli­ca­tion should not pro­ceed,” she said.

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