The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Tuesday ordered the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to compensate Guinea for the arrest and arbitrary detention of a businessman in late 1995.
"The Democratic Republic of Congo is under obligation to make appropriate reparation, in the form of compensation, to the Republic of Guinea," ruled ICJ president Hisashi Owada, reading out the order in the court.
The World Cuurt - the UN's principal judicial organ - at the Peace Palace in the Dutch city of The Hague did not rule on the amount of compensation, but ordered the two parties to come to an agreement within six months. If they fail, the ICJ will decide on an amount.
The judges found that the arrest and detention of Ahmadou Sadio Diallo at the end of 1995 and early in 1996 were arbitrary and they accused the former Zaire of violating the African Charter on Human and People's Rights.
Guinea went to the ICJ in 1998, accusing Kinshasa of having unjustly detained Diallo. The businessman had asked Congolese authorities and several mining and oil companies to pay a sum totalling several billion dollars he claimed he was owed.
Apart from keeping Diallo in prison for more than two months, Congolese authorities also dispossessed him of several properties and firms and closed his bank accounts, then expelled him from the country.
The judges nevertheless ruled that Diallo's arrest, detention and expulsion did not constitute a violation of his rights as a partner in his companies, the trading firm Africom-Zaire and the container transport firm Africontainers-Zaire.