New case awaits Belgium under 'genocide law'

17th November 2005, Comments 0 comments

17 November 2005, BRUSSELS — As Chad's former ruler Hissene Habre awaits a ruling on an extradition request from Belgium to face charges of crimes against humanity, the African Union is being urged to examine the case.

17 November 2005

BRUSSELS — As Chad's former ruler Hissene Habre awaits a ruling on an extradition request from Belgium to face charges of crimes against humanity, the African Union is being urged to examine the case.

The international arrest warrant issued by Belgium in September accuses Habre, 63, of mass murder and torture carried out by his political police.

The alleged crimes were committed when Habre was in power from 1982 to 1990. He took power after a long military campaign and was in turn overthrown in a coup d'etat in 1990 by current Chad president Idriss Deby.

He then sought exile in Senegal and was arrested there on Tuesday. Habre is expected to stay in custody while a Senegalese judge decides on the validity of the Belgian extradition case. The judge has up to eight days to make the ruling.

Meanwhile, Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade said on Wednesday he will seek advice from the African Union over the extradition request.

Wade said he had spoken to Nigerian President and African Union Chairman Olusegun Obasanjo about Habre, Reuters reported.

"I spoke with President Obasanjo this morning about the Hissene Habre case and I will not do anything without consulting the African Union because this is not a Senegalese problem, but an African problem, that we agree on," Wade said.

A Senegalese court charged Habre in 2000 with torture and crimes against humanity, but later ruled he could not be tried there. Habre's lawyer has since said the ruling meant Senegal could not extradite his client.

However, pressure group Human Rights Watch (HRW) has welcomed the arrest, with investigator Reed Brody telling the BBC "this could be the first step in extraditing Habre to Belgium".

A Chadian government inquiry has accused Habre's government of 40,000 political killings and 200,000 cases of torture. But his lawyers have said their client had no knowledge that police tortured and killed political prisoners.

A Brussels magistrate issued the arrest warrant on 19 September under Belgium's universal jurisdiction law, dubbed by some as the nation's 'genocide law'. It allows Belgian judges to prosecute human rights violations no matter where they were committed.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Belgian news

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