A possible trial for the man dubbed the ‘African Pinochet’ has moved a step closer.
Hissene Habre, the former president of Chad is wanted in Belgium on allegations of torture and crimes against humanity.
The International Court of Justice in the Hague has ruled that Senegal – where Habre has been in exile -must begin its own prosecution “without delay.”
Alternatively, he must be extradited to Brussels, the court says.
Habre’s government is accused of having tortured or killed up to 40,000 political opponents between 1982 and 1990.
Belgium issued an arrest warrant for Habre in 2005 and has attempted several times to have him extradited.
However, there has been disagreement within Senegal for many years about what to do with the 69-year-old.
Human rights groups said Friday’s ruling coincided with more firm action in Senegal.
“Today the Senegalese and the African Union have started talks in Dakar to create a special court within the Senegalese judicial system to prosecute Habre, so the decision comes in a really interesting time and I think it marks a turning point in the case,” said Leslie Haskell from Human Rights Watch.
Habre denies any knowledge of the murders or torture.
In Chad, he has been sentenced to death in absentia.