Belgium demands trial of former Chad dictator

Belgium MapThe Hague - Belgium has instituted proceedings against Senegal at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) demanding that the country extradites former president of Chad Hissene Habre to be tried in Belgium, the ICJ confirmed on Friday.

In its application filed to the Hague-based court on Thursday, Belgium maintains that Senegal, where the former Chad dictator has been living in exile since 1990, has taken no action on repeated requests to see the former Chadian President prosecuted in Senegal.

The application said Senegal had failed to extradite Habre, to be tried for acts including crimes of torture and crimes against humanity.

Belgium issued a warrant for Habre's arrest in 2005. The former dictator was initially indicted in Dakar in February 2000, but ultimately placed under house arrest.

In its application to the ICJ, Belgium requests the court to either force Senegal to prosecute Habre for crimes of torture and crimes against humanity or to extradite him to the Kingdom of Belgium where he would be tried.

Senegal's failure to prosecute Mr. Hissene Habre, if he is not extradited to Belgium to answer for the acts of torture that are alleged against him, violates the United Nations Convention against Torture," the application said.

Belgium also requested the court to take provisional measures to keep Habre under house arrest pending the procedure.

Habre first came to power in June 1982.

Initially praised by the West for fighting the Libyan regime of Muammar Gaddafi, human rights organizations later accused him of alleged responsibility in the killing of thousands of people.

Libyan-supported rebel leader Idriss Deby forced Habre to flee the country in December 1990.

On August 15, 2008 a court in N'Djamena gave Habre, who was absent at the trial, the death sentence. The African Union had requested that Habre be tried two years earlier.

The Hague-based ICJ, operative since 1946, is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations. (dpa)