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World Court to Decide on Extradition of Former Chadian Leader

Former Chadian President Hissène Habré talks to media as he leaves a court in Dakar, Senegal, November 25, 2005.
An ex-prisoner of former Chadian President Hissène Habré said there can be no reconciliation until Habré is put on trial.

Habré is currently under house arrest in Senegal where he has lived since he was overthrown in 1990 by current President Idriss Deby.

He is accused of murdering more than 40,000 people during his eight-year rule.

Belgium has asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to order Senegal to extradite Habré so he can be put on trial for crimes against humanity.

The ICJ is expected to render its judgment Friday, July 20.

Clement Abaifouta is president of the Association of Victims of the Crimes of Hissène Habré (AVCRHH). As a prisoner under Habré, Abaifouta was forced to dig graves for more than 500 fellow inmates.

He said he hopes the court will rule in favor of Habré’s extradition.

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“For my own concern, I think that it has taken many years concerning this problem. So, my own view is that the decision should be to send Hissène Habré to Belgium to be judged there. This is my own view or my wish,” he said.

Abaifouta said Habré should face justice because his crimes have touched almost every Chadian citizen.

“We cannot let him go because he made many wrong things against the population. So, I think that the right thing to do is for him to be judged and to respond to what he has done when he was ruling the country,” Abaifouta said.

Belgium issued an arrest warrant against Habré in 2005, after a Belgian of Chadian origin filed a complaint against him under Belgium’s “universal competence” law.

The law allows those accused of crimes under international law, which have affected Belgians, to be tried in Belgium.

Abaifouta said some Chadians first supported Senegal’s request to try Habré on Africa soil. But, he said, after nearly 12 years, Senegal has done nothing to bring Habré to trial.

“This was our first view but, within 12 years, Senegal, on behalf of Africa, has done nothing to judge Hissène Habré. So, I think that the Africa reason is not the right view for us,” Abaifouta said.

He said, given the nature of Habré’s crimes against the Chadian people, reconciliation without justice would be virtually impossible.

“I want justice because, without justice, there’s no reconciliation. Without justice, all our country would be living under punishment, meaning someone can kill without being judged. So, I think that, with justice for Hissène Habré, I wish that peace will come in my country,” Abaifouta said.