Turkey’s Erdoğan says he laughed at ICC extradition demand for al-Bashir

Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said he laughed at an International Criminal Court (ICC) demand for the extradition of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, Hürriyet reported on Thursday.

The ICC issued two arrest warrants, on March 4, 2009 and July 12, 2010, for al-Bashir on five counts of crimes against humanity in the Darfur region of Sudan between the years 2003 and 2008.

Noting that the ICC sent a letter demanding the extradition of al-Bashir during his participation in an Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) emergency summit in Istanbul on Dec. 13, Erdoğan said while on his Africa tour: “First of all, we are not a member of that court. Second, they do not know who is who and where anybody is. It could be only laughed at.”

“A person who as a member participates in the OIC summit with us, and we will extradite him to you… What kind of understanding is this? It is impossible to understand. We laughed and forgot it,” Erdoğan told reporters on his plane while flying from Chad to Tunisia. Erdoğan paid a two-day visit to Sudan on Dec. 24-25 in the first stop of his Africa tour.

According to a statement on the ICC website, “Until Omar al-Bashir is arrested and transferred to the seat of the Court in The Hague, the case will remain in the Pre-Trial stage. The ICC does not try individuals unless they are present in the courtroom.”

Meawnhile, Sudan said late Wednesday that a recent deal with Turkey does not harm the security of Arab countries. The Sudanese embassy in Riyadh released a written statement about the agreements signed during Erdoğan’s two-day visit to Sudan this week. The statement came following claims in a Saudi Arabian daily newspaper Okaz, which wrote Khartum gave the port city Suakin, or Sawakin, to Ankara.

During Erdoğan’s visit, a number of bilateral agreements were signed between the two countries to strengthen ties in such fields as science, technology, industry, agricultural production, forestry, education, tourism, trade, and the economy. Sudan also agreed to hand over Suakin Island temporarily to Turkey for rebuilding.

Suakin, one of the oldest seaports in Africa, was used by African Muslims who set out for pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Ottomans used the port city to secure Hejaz province — present-day western Saudi Arabia — from attackers using the Red Sea front.

According to a report by state-run Anadolu news agency, Riyadh embassy press officer Al-Mutez Ahmed Ibrahim denied the claims by Okaz paper, saying those claims were an insult to the Sudanese authority and its right to develop ties with other countries. “Suakin belongs to Sudan, nowhere else,” he said. The officer also said his country had peaceful relations with other nations without harming Arab security.

Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour also said Tuesday, at a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, that his country had temporarily leased Sudan’s Suakin Island to Turkish investors. Ghandour, underlined his country’s keenness to maintain Red Sea security, stressing Sudan’s readiness to cooperate with different states of the region in this regard. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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