French court closes Brazzaville Beach case

06 December 2004 by Arnoud Grellier

On 22 November, judges at the Paris Appeals Court threw out all proceedings related to the disappearances at the Brazzaville Beach port. In doing so, they have probably buried the case for good. They also spared Congo-Brazzaville's leaders from prosecution for their alleged role in the disappearance of 353 refugees sailing into the Brazzaville port from the Democratic Republic of Congo in May 1999.

"This is a completely political decision," says Patrick Baudoin, a lawyer acting for one of the plaintiffs, the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH). In December 2001, the NGO filed a case of crimes against humanity against the president of Congo-Brazzaville, Denis Sassou N'Guesso, the interior minister, Pierre Oba, the head of the Republican Guard, Blaise Adoua, and the chief inspector of the armies, Norbert Dabira. The latter, who owns a holiday home just outside Paris, provided the grounds for invoking universal jurisdiction.

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