Court says Uganda should have arrested Sudan’s al-Bashir

December 19, 2019 GMT

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — A Ugandan judge ruled that the government should have arrested Sudan’s former president Omar al-Bashir when he visited while indicted by the International Criminal Court.

The judge said Uganda, as a member of the statute that created the Hague-based court, was legally required to arrest al-Bashir when he visited the country in 2016 and 2017, even though he came at the invitation of President Yoweri Museveni’s government.

The ICC wants al-Bashir to stand trial for alleged atrocities, including genocide, committed in Sudan’s Darfur region. Al-Bashir has been in custody in Sudan since April, when that country’s military deposed him following months of protests.

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The Ugandan judge announced his decision Thursday in response to a legal case brought by the Uganda Victims Foundation, a local activist group.

Nicholas Opiyo, a lawyer who helped to bring the case to court, told reporters on Thursday the ruling affirmed that Uganda’s obligations under international justice “are not entered in vain.”

Some African countries have urged a mass exit from the ICC, saying the court unfairly targets Africans. The court has indicted mostly African suspects.

Museveni has led criticism of the court, calling it “useless” during his inauguration in May 2016, an event that al-Bashir attended.

Al-Bashir was convicted of money laundering and corruption on Saturday by a Sudanese court that sentenced him to two years in a minimum security prison. That’s the first verdict in a series of legal proceedings against al-Bashir, who ruled Sudan for three decades.

Sudan’s military has said it would not extradite al-Bashir to the ICC. The country’s military-civilian transitional government has not indicated whether it will hand him over to the court.