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Friday, 8 December, 2000, 00:57 GMT
Court to rule in Congo arrest dispute
Tutsi refugees in eastern DRC
Testimonies of surviving Tutsis prompted allegations
By Geraldine Coughlin in The Hague

The International Court of Justice at The Hague is due to announce its ruling in the dispute over a warrant issued by Belgium against the Democratic Republic of Congo's education minister.

Belgium - the former colonial power in DR Congo - wants to extradite Yerodia Abdoulaye Ndombasi on charges of inciting racial hatred and mass killings at the start of the Congolese rebellion in August 1998.

Abdoulaye Yerodia
Abdoulaye Yerodia: Said he was referring to aggressors in general
He is accused of sparking anti-Tutsi sentiment by describing ethnic minority Tutsis as vermin worthy of extermination when Tutsi rebels, backed by Rwanda and Uganda, tried to topple Laurent Kabila's government.

It was the testimonies of Tutsi refugees who survived alleged mob murders that prompted Belgian prosecutors to indict Mr Yerodia.

Mr Yerodia, who was minister of foreign affairs at the time, admits using the words, but said he was referring to aggressors in general and not to any specific ethnic or racial group.

He now risks arrest if he enters one of the countries willing to execute the warrant, thought to include most European and some African countries.

A lawyer for the refugees whose complaints triggered the arrest warrant hopes that similar warrants against President Kabila and more of his ministers will follow.

Under a 1993 law courts in Belgium can try foreigners for crimes against humanity allegedly committed in their own countries.

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See also:

30 Jun 00 | Africa
Timeline: DR Congo conflict
30 Jun 00 | Africa
Congo's unhappy birthday
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