Chad open to Habre's trial in Belgium

2011-07-11 14:16

N'Djamena - The Chadian government signalled on Monday it could accept former president Hissene Habre being sent to Belgium to stand trial after Senegal reversed a decision to extradite the former leader back to Chad.

Senegal said on Sunday it had suspended a decision to send Habre back to his homeland to face trial following a request from the UN's top human rights official.

Kalzeubet Payimi Demubet, Chad's communications minister, said his government regretted Senegal's decision to reverse the decision to extradite Habre despite measures offered to guarantee his safety and a fair trial.

"Moreover, the Chadian government does not exclude the hypothesis of Hissene Habre's transfer to Belgium," Deubet said.

"What is important for the Chadian government is that the trial should take place so as to render justice to the victims who have waited 20-plus years for justice to be done," he said.

Efforts to bring Habre to trial have stalled over the past decade as Senegal and other parties wrangle over where he should be tried and who should bear the cost of a trial.

The government of Senegal said on Sunday it would consult the African Union and the United Nations on how to proceed with the case.

Belgium has sought Habre's extradition and has offered to try him after a Belgian court said in 2005 that it was competent to judge him following a complaint from a collective of Chadian victims for crimes against humanity.


Habre, 69, who was ousted in a coup in December 1990 by current President Idriss Deby, has been accused of thousands of killings and other atrocities during his eight-year rule of the Central African state.

Human rights organisations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch urged Senegal not to send Habre back to Chad where he had been sentenced to death in absentia, raising concerns he would not get a fair trial.

Belgium, which has launched legal proceedings to ensure Habre remains in Senegal until a case at the International Court of Justice is resolved, also challenged Habre's return to Chad.

Clement Dokhot, president of an association of Habre's victims in Chad, said he was relieved following Senegal's decision to suspend Habre's extradition to Chad.

"Hissene Habre should immediately be sent to Belgium because it is the only country that says it is ready to judge him," Dokhot said.