Africa

Senegal rejects Hissene Habre's extradition to Belgium

Chad's then President Hissene Habre, in 1989 in Paris
Image caption Chad sentenced Hissene Habre to death in absentia in 2008

A Senegalese court has rejected a Belgian request to extradite Chad's ex-President Hissene Habre to face trial for alleged atrocities during his rule.

Mr Habre, 69, has been living in Senegal since he was ousted in 1990.

He is accused of killing and torturing tens of thousands of opponents between 1982 and 1990, charges he denies.

Senegal's president said this month he expected the extradition would be imminent - and the appeal court's decision was due to a procedural error.

Reed Brody, a lawyer with the US-based group Human Rights Watch which has backed the case against Mr Habre, said the ruling was not definitive.

He told the AFP news agency that the court said that "Belgium had not annexed the original arrest warrant and other papers" only photocopied versions.

"It leaves the door open to a fresh Belgian extradition request," he said.

After years of wrangling, the African Union recently urged Senegal to either put Mr Habre on trial or send him to a country which would do so.

Senegal arrested Mr Habre in 2005, after he was charged by Belgium with crimes against humanity and torture.

Alleged victims filed complaints under Belgium's universal jurisdiction law, which allows Brussels judges to prosecute human rights offences anywhere.

In 2008, he was sentenced to death in absentia for planning to overthrow Chad's government.

A 1992 Truth Commission in Chad accused him of being responsible for widespread torture and the death of 40,000 people during his eight-year rule.

Last year, Senegal stopped plans to repatriate Mr Habre to Chad following a plea from the UN.

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