[JURIST] France applied the controversial doctrine of "universal jurisdiction" [Wikipedia backgrounder] that allows states to claim criminal jurisdiction over persons accused of committing crimes abroad for the first time Thursday in the trial of a Mauritanian military officer. Ely Ould Dah is accused of torturing black Mauritanian army personnel [Amnesty International report] in Jreida prison in 1990 and 1991. He was arrested in France in 1999, fled while on bail in 2000, then was indicted in July 2002 [press release] for acts of torture. He was not present when his trial commenced. Aljazeera has more. The Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) has compiled a dossier on the proceeding [PDF] and provides case updates [in French].