Congo petitions World Court to block trial of government official in France

Congo petitions World Court to block trial of government official in France

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The Republic of the Congo today filed a petition with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) seeking to block France from putting the country's Minister of the Interior, Pierre Oba, on trial for crimes against humanity and torture.

In its filing yesterday, Congo says that the effort by France to prosecute Mr. Oba for crimes allegedly committed "in connection with the exercise of his powers for the maintenance of public order in his country" amounted to a breach of the principle that one country cannot exercise its authority on the territory of another.

The court document goes on to state that in issuing a warrant instructing police officers to examine President Denis Sassou Nguesso as a witness in the case, France violated "the criminal immunity of a foreign Head of State, an international customary rule recognized by the jurisprudence of the Court," and asks the ICJ to annul all investigation and prosecution efforts.

Brazzaville also seeks to establish the ICJ's jurisdiction in the case, which requires the agreement of France. The petition and a request for preliminary measures has been transmitted to Paris, but no action will be taken "unless and until France consents to the Court's jurisdiction in the case," the ICJ said.