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South African court mulls arrest of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir

A Pretoria court has ordered Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir not to leave South Africa, which he is visiting to attend an African Union summit. Bashir is charged with war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity.

The court placed a temporary ban on Bashir leaving the country on Sunday, following a demand from the International Criminal Court (ICC) for him to be arrested while attending the summit.

The Pretoria High Court issued a statement saying it was "compelling respondents to prevent President Omar Al-Bashir from the leaving the country until an order is made in this court."

A hearing had been scheduled to take place on Sunday, the opening day of the African Union summit. However, that hearing - at which an arrest warrant will be considered - was postponed until Monday.

Judge Hans Fabricius ruled that all of South Africa's border control posts should be informed of the court's decision.

The ruling followed an urgent court application from the Southern African Litigation Centre, a legal rights group, which urged authorities to arrest Bashir.

The 71-year-old is wanted over alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in the Darfur conflict. Bashir normally travels to countries that have not joined the ICC, but South Africa is a signatory.

The Hague-based ICC on Sunday told South Africa, a member of the court, to "spare no effort in ensuring the execution of the arrest warrants."

rc/ksb (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)