Paris, June 10, 2011 (FH) - A coalition of former Chadian President Hissène Habré's victims and human rights groups announced on Thursday that they were going to seek his extradition to Belgium.

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Senegal's withdrawal from talks expected to open on June 13 to establish an ad hoc tribunal  to try Habré for crimes against humanity were at the origin of this change in strategy. "We would have liked to see Habré tried in Africa," said Jacqueline Moudeina, of the Chadian Association for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (ATPDH). "But after 11 years of delays and disappointments, this is the last straw. We have to face the facts, and the idea that Senegal would try Habré was just an illusion."

In a statement released on Thursday, the coalition which includes Human Rights Watch and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) declared that they "had lost all hope for a trial in Senegal, where Habré has remained in exile for two decades, and would now press to have Habré sent to Belgium". Belgium had requested his extradition in 2005 and again in 2011.

Habré ruled Chad from 1982 until 1990. He is charged for war crimes and crimes against humanity notably for political murders allegedly committed under his presidency. When he was overthrown by Idriss Déby in December 1990 he flew to Sénégal where he has been living since then.

The Senegalese delegation's withdrawal "follows more than a decade of stalling tactics by the government of President Abdoulaye Wade" to postpone a trial, the press release states.

In 2005, a Belgian judge indicted Habré after a four-year investigation. But Senegal refused to extradite him.

According to the Coalition, Belgium has filed in 2009 a lawsuit against Senegal at the International Court of Justice in The Hague "to force Senegal either to prosecute Habré itself or to extradite him to Belgium". A ruling in that case is not expected until 2012.


© Hirondelle News Agency