For six years and counting, Omar al-Bashir has evaded arrest and a trial at the International Criminal Court on genocide and crimes against humanity charges stemming from the Darfur conflict, and it appears he may have slipped through the cracks again—this time in South Africa. The Sudanese leader was visiting for a two-day African Union summit, and a South Africa High Court judge yesterday ordered al-Bashir to stay in the country while the court decided whether he should be arrested and handed over to the ICC, notes CNN; the judge also ordered all ports of exit and entry to stop al-Bashir from leaving. But before the hearing on his arrest could be completed, al-Bashir's private jet reportedly departed a Pretoria military airport, per the New York Times, and Sudan's minister of information told Reuters that his boss would arrive back in Khartoum at around 6:30pm local time.
This apparent escape is just the latest in the ICC's frustrating attempt to get someone, anyone, to turn al-Bashir over. Since the first indictment against him in 2009, the Sudanese president has "danced around the arrest warrants," per NBC News, traveling to countries where he doesn't fear arrest and avoiding all others. When the ICC got wind he'd be heading to South Africa, it put out a statement imploring South Africa to "spare no effort in ensuring the execution of the arrest warrants." UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reminded ICC member countries today that, as members, they have an obligation to carry out those warrants. But, as NBC notes, many African nations haven't been willing to go the extra mile for the ICC because they feel Africa has been unfairly targeted by the court at The Hague. Sudan's state news agency says there will be a press conference after al-Bashir returns, per CNN. (Read more Omar al Bashir stories.)