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José J. Basulto et. al v. Fidel Castro Ruz et al.

This case summary is being revised and will be updated soon

Decision title Plainte avec constitution de partie civile / Complaint
Decision date 4 October 2001
  • Fidel Castro Ruz
  • General Raul Castro Ruz
  • General Ulises Rosales Del Toro
  • General Arnaldo Tamayo Mendez
  • X.
  • José J. Basulto
  • Brothers to the Rescue (BTTR)
  • Sergio Perodin
  • Maria Victoria Garcia
  • Eugenio de Sosa Chabau
  • Marcelino E. Feal
  • Eva Librada Barbas-Arango
Categories Crimes against humanity
Keywords murder, persecution, crimes against humanity, illegal detention, immunities (Head of State), jurisdiction (universal), torture
Other countries involved
  • Cuba
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Related developments

On 29 July 2003, the universal jurisdiction law was repealed and replaced by a much more restricted law relating to “grave breaches to international humanitarian law”. This law gives Belgium jurisdiction only if the accused or the victim(s) are Belgians, or living in Belgium, or if Belgium is required by an international treaty to prosecute the alleged crimes.

Pursuant to this new law, on 12 December 2003, the Cour de Cassation declared that Belgium did not have jurisdiction over the accused. Recalling the Sharon case, the court also reaffirmed that Fidel Castro could not be tried as a Head of State.

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Legally relevant facts

On 4 October 2001, José Basulto, the president of an American NGO, initiated legal action against Fidel Castro, invoking the 1993 Belgian universal jurisdiction law. Fidel Castro (President of the Council of State), Raul Castro Ruz (First Vice President of the Council of State), General Ulises Rosales Del Toro (former chief of the general staff of the armed forces and current minister of Sugarcane industry) and Arnaldo Tamayo Mendez (head of the Cuban secret service) were charged with crimes against humanity including murder, attempted murder, unlawful detention and torture.