East Africa: Uganda Arrest Warrant for Bashir

On the outskirts of El Fasher in North Darfur, women ride donkeys on the road to Khartoum, Sudan.

The High Court in Uganda has issued an arrest warrant against former Sudan president Omar al Bashir, nearly four years after the petition against him was filed and a year after he was overthrown and later thrown in jail.

A Khartoum court on Saturday convicted Bashir on corruption charges and sentenced him to two years of detention in a reform facility, the first ruling against the former president.

The deposed head of state, who was recently sentenced to a two year jail term for crimes related to corruption, was earlier indicted by The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) on multiple counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes on the basis of his "individual criminal responsibility" during a conflict that began in Darfur region in 2003.

Two international arrest warrants were issued, the first on March 4, 2009 and the second on July 12, 2010 but Mr Bashir kept travelling to countries that did not arrest him including South Africa, Kenya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, China, Jordan and Uganda.

Uganda President Yoweri President Museveni invited Mr Bashir in May 2016 while taking his oath of office and lashed out at the ICC for being "a useless body."

Mr Museveni also personally drove his visitor around his cattle farm in central Uganda.

Blood of martyrs

Under international law, Uganda, a signatory to the treaty that establishes ICC, was expected to arrest Mr Bashir as soon as he set foot in the country.

Nicholas Opiyo, a Ugandan human-rights lawyer who on Thursday secured the arrest warrant after Uganda's failure to arrest Mr Bashir said that Museveni's action was a "clear rebuke" of the ICC.

Bashir was overthrown in a coup by the military in April this year following months of mass protests by citizens.

The public prosecutor's office said on Thursday it was investigating more than 400 corruption cases and that it was committed to investigating "all those who committed violations and all those who wasted the blood of martyrs".

The statement said cases have been opened from 1989, when Bashir seized power in a coup, through to June 30, this year.

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