Senegal court backs out of ruling on Habre extradition
25 November 2005, BRUSSELS — Senegal's Appeals Court declared itself on Friday "not competent" to rule on Belgium's extradition request for former Chad president Hissene Habre, who stands accused of atrocities committed under his rule.
25 November 2005
BRUSSELS — Senegal's Appeals Court declared itself on Friday "not competent" to rule on Belgium's extradition request for former Chad president Hissene Habre, who stands accused of atrocities committed under his rule.
The court's decision on Friday placed the controversial extradition case into what appeared to be a legal limbo, Reuters reported.
Defence lawyers said it was a setback for the Belgian request, which accuses Habre of responsibility for mass murder and torture carried out by his political police between 1982 and 1990.
But lawyers representing former Chad political prisoners accusing Habre — some of whom are Belgian nationals — believe there is still a possibility the former Chad ruler can be extradited.
Habre, now 63, was detained last week in Senegal, where he has lived in exile for 15 years.
Brussels Court requested Habre's extradition in September under the country's universal jurisdiction law. This allows Belgian judges to prosecute human rights violations no matter where they were committed.
However, the case has sparked international debate over whether former heads of state should face trial over human right abuses in the courts of nations other than their own.
Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade has said he will consult the African Union on whether or not to hand over the former Chadian president.
Diplomats said Wade might be reluctant to set the precedent of extraditing a former African leader to a European ex-colonial power such as Belgium.
Belgian colonial authorities have been accused by historians of committing atrocities during their rule over the Congo until it gained independence in 1960.
However, the Senegalese president also risks international condemnation if he is seen to be sheltering a former ruler accused of major human rights violations.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Belgian news