THE HAGUE, Netherlands, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- There is nothing in customary international law that extends immunity for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, the ICC said in a ruling against Malawi.
Bashir traveled to Malawi in October for a summit for the regional trade bloc, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa. In a statement, Catherine Ashton, Europe's foreign policy chief, pressed Malawi to arrest Bashir during the visit.
The International Criminal Court said it issued a letter to Malawi before Bashir's visit asking the country to cooperate, as a state party to the court, with his arrest for alleged crimes committed in Darfur.
The court said it issued a decision requesting that Malawi submit an explanation by Nov. 11 as to why if failed to comply with that request.
The court reminded Malawi that the Rome Statute that created the court says that state parties that fail to cooperate with the court could be referred to the U.N. Security Council.
Malawi, the court said, argued that customary international law creates an exception for heads of state wanted for international crimes.
"The judges noted that immunity for heads of state before international courts has been rejected time and time again dating all the way back to World War I," the court said.
The ICC in 2009 issued its first arrest warrant for Bashir on five counts of crimes against humanity and two counts of war crimes. A second 2010 warrant added three additional counts of genocide.