Court: Congo arbitrarily detained businessman
30 November 2010, 22:28
The Hague - The International Court of Justice ordered the Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday to compensate Guinea for illegally detaining and expelling a Guinean businessman in a dispute over exploiting Congo's vast mineral wealth.
The case revolved around allegations of corruption between the government and resource companies in Congo, when the country was still known as Zaire and ruled by notorious dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.
The United Nations' highest judicial body gave Congo and Guinea six months to negotiate a compensation package for losses suffered by entrepreneur Ahmadou Sadio Diallo as a result of his 1996 expulsion.
Diallo, who spent more than 30 years in Zaire building up two profitable businesses that helped transport and export oil products and other minerals, was not in court for the ruling.
The 14-judge panel ruled that authorities in Congo expelled Diallo without good reason; did not allow him to appeal the expulsion order and jailed him for too long before he was put on a plane out of the country.
Guinea claimed that Diallo was kicked out of Congo so that companies that owed him money would not have to pay up.
At hearings in April, Guinea lawyer Mathias Forteau told the court that oil and mining companies were so integral to the process of kicking Diallo out of the country that Zaire Shell paid for the plane ticket when he was deported.
Congo had argued that Diallo was under investigation for fraud and corruption and that it should not be held responsible for acts of Mobutu's regime, which ended when the dictator fled the country in 1997.
International Court of Justice rulings are final and binding, though they are not always obeyed. The world court adjudicates disputes between nations.