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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 September 2005, 21:10 GMT 22:10 UK
Warrant issued for ex-Chad leader
Chad's former President Hissene Habre (file photo, 1987)
Hissene Habre's regime is accused of murders and torture
Belgium has issued an international arrest warrant for the former President of Chad, Hissene Habre, charging him with atrocities while in office.

Mr Habre, who led Chad from 1982 to 1990, now lives in exile in Senegal.

The warrant relates to the activities of his intelligence service, which is accused of arbitrary arrests, mass murder and systematic torture.

It was issued under Belgian law, which allows prosecutions for crimes against humanity wherever they were committed.

Belgium has also made an official extradition request for Mr Habre to the authorities in Senegal.

Human rights

Mr Habre, 63, ruled the former French colony of Chad for eight years until deposed by the current leader, President Idriss Deby.

Human rights groups accuse Mr Habre's regime of some 40,000 executions and the torture of 200,000 people.

Map of Chad

A spokesman for Human Rights Watch, Reed Brody, welcomed the warrant for the former president's arrest.

Mr Habre could become the first ex-president to be extradited to face human rights charges in another country, he told Associated Press news agency.

Efforts to prosecute Mr Habre in 2001 in Senegal failed after the country's highest court ruled he could not be tried there, as his alleged crimes were committed outside the country.

This time, his alleged victims filed complaints under Belgium's "universal jurisdiction" law, which allow Belgian judges to prosecute human rights offences anywhere.

Two years ago, Belgium's highest court rejected attempts to use the law against Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and former US President George Bush, over Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the first Gulf War in 1991, respectively.

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06 Sep 05 |  Africa
Amnesty urges Habre extradition
03 Oct 05 |  Africa
Country profile: Chad
04 May 05 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Chad
16 Apr 05 |  Country profiles



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