South African legal representatives have told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that government was under no obligation to arrest a sitting head of state like Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir.
However, prosecutors insist that South Africa had an obligation to arrest him. .
South Africa told the ICC earlier today that al-Bashir enjoyed immunity when he came to Johannesburg for the African Union Summit in 2015.
The government is appearing before the court to explain why it did not arrest al-Bashir when he attended the African Union summit in Johannesburg in 2015.
South Africa has opened its case in The Hague in front of presiding judge Cuno Tarfusser. Legal advisor Dire Tladi told the court that Sudan is not a signatory to the Rome Statute and that means South Africa was not obliged to arrest its sitting head of state.
Al-Bashir is wanted by the court on various crimes, including genocide and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Darfur.
Tladi said this hearing is significant and has far-reaching consequences beyond al-Bashir. The immunity of many other heads of state will be affected, he said.
Tladi also said it was about the integrity of the Rome Statute.
State legal representative Sandia de Wet earlier told the court that it was the first time that a hearing of this type was taking place.
There is also some dispute about whether the correct procedures were followed in consultations between court officials and South Africa the day before al-Bashir landed in Johannesburg in June 2015.