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Habre has lived in a luxury villa in Senegal's capital, Dakar, since rebels ousted him 1990 and has become a symbol of Africa's inability to try leaders from the continent accused of rights abuses.
The case at the International Court of Justice is about "taking a stand against impunity in the most serious crimes in international law," Belgian representative Paul Rietjens told judges in the wood-paneled Great Hall of Justice.
Belgium indicted Habre in 2005 for crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture based on complaints by survivors of his regime, some of whom have Belgian citizenship, but has failed to persuade Senegal to extradite him to Brussels despite repeated requests.
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