JOHANNESBURG (BLOOMBERG) - South Africa's High Court barred Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir from leaving the country while it decides whether to order the government to arrest him on war-crimes charges.
Judge Hans Fabricius made the interim ruling at a hearing in Pretoria, where the case is scheduled to resume later on Sunday.
The Southern Africa Litigation Centre, which promotes human rights, had filed an urgent court application seeking to overturn a decree granting immunity to all delegates attending an African Union summit that began on Sunday in Johannesburg.
Mr Bashir, who has ruled Sudan for 25 years, was indicted by the International Criminal Court in 2009 and 2010 for alleged atrocities in the western region of Darfur.
South Africa is a signatory to the Rome Statute that established the ICC. As many as 300,000 people have died during an insurgency in Darfur that began in 2003, according to United Nations estimates.
"Al-Bashir is a fugitive from justice," Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International's research and advocacy director for Africa, said in an e-mailed statement.
If South Africa fails to arrest him, "it would have done nothing, save to give succor to a leader who is accused of being complicit in the killing, maiming and torture of hundreds of thousands of people."
The nation should "spare no effort" in seeking to arrest the president, Sidiki Kaba, head of the Assembly of States to the Rome Statute of the ICC, said on Saturday in a statement on the court's website.
Mr Bashir's attendance at the summit was confirmed by AU spokesman Jacob Eben. The president was sworn in this month for another five-year term in office.