Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly “laughed” off an International Criminal Court (ICC) request to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for alleged genocide and war crimes.
Erdogan’s refusal came as he denied reports his administration is planning to establish a naval base off the Red Sea shores of Sudan.
The Hague-based ICC allegedly wrote a letter to Ankara urging the Erdogan government to arrest the Sudanese president an Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit this month and hand him over.
“Something like this just makes you laugh,” Erdogan told reporters on his way back from a four-day visit to African countries, including Sudan, reports the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency.
He added, “Are we going to just go and hand over to you someone who is a member of the [OIC] and is taking part in such a summit?”
“What kind of understanding is this? It’s impossible to understand it. We just laughed it off,” declared Erdogan.
Erdogan defended his Sudanese counterpart in 2009, arguing, “It is not possible for those who belong to the Muslim faith to carry out genocide.”
Turkey’s leader argued that his country is not bound by the international ICC treaty.
The ICC, which is currently in recess, has not yet confirmed that it requested that Turkey arrest the Sudanese president, reports AFP.
“Erdogan’s defiant comments came after holding talks with Bashir in Sudan on his Africa trip, which also took in Chad and Tunisia and underlined his ambition for a strategic foothold in the continent,” reveals the news agency.
Referring to reports that Turkey is planning to build a base of the coast of Sudan, Erdogan reportedly said, “There is no such thing as a military port.”
The Turkish leader did reportedly assert that Turkey is trying to restore Ottoman-era ruins in the African region.
“On the trip, Erdogan said Sudan had agreed to let Turkey restore the Red Sea port of Suakin Island, which thrived during the era of the Ottomans but has fallen into disrepair,” points out AFP. “He denied, however, that there was any plan to build a military base there.”
The ICC wants Bashir for genocide and other war crimes in connection with the conflict that erupted in Darfur in 2003 when ethnic minority groups rose up against the government, prompting a violent insurgency.