Lawyers for the Belgian government on Monday urged [hearing materials] the International Court of Justice (ICJ) [official website] to order Senegal to either prosecute former president of Chad Hissene Habre [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] or extradite him to stand trial for atrocities committed during his eight years in power. Habre served as president of Chad from 1982 to 1990 and has been residing in Senegal since rebels ousted him from power in 1990. Belgium alleges [AP report] that, during that time, Habre was involved in the murder or torture [JURIST report] of more than 40,000 political opponents. When he was ousted in 1990, he sought refuge in Senegal where he has resided ever since. Belgium indicted Habre in 2005 for crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture but has been unable to extradite him to Brussels to stand trial despite repeated requests to Senegalese authorities. Senegal placed Habre under arrest in 2005 after he was charged by Belgium.
Senegal has been under pressure to send Habre to a country where he will face trial for his alleged war crimes committed during his rule of Chad. In January, a court in Senegal rejected a Belgian court's request to extradite Habre, the former president of Chad, on accusations that he killed and tortured opponents during his regime. In July of last year, Senegal reversed [JURIST report] its decision to send the former dictator back to Chad after UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay warned he could be tortured. The decision came after Pillay issued a plea [JURIST report] not to return Habre to Chad, which has already sentenced him to death in absentia and where she fears he will be tortured.