China's ex-premier faces Belgian Falun Gong lawsuit

A top Belgian lawyer will bring a court case against China's former premier Jiang Zemin on Wednesday, saying his crackdown on the Falun Gong spiritual movement broke Belgium's human rights law.

One of the plaintiffs in the case, Matthias Slaats, told Reuters on Tuesday a number of Falun Gong members in countries including Belgium, the United States and Australia were filing the suit for torture, crimes against humanity and genocide.

''We think we have a very strong file otherwise we would not proceed with the case,'' he said.

Their lawyer, Georges-Henri Beauthier, has represented the plaintiffs in Belgium's most notorious case, that against Marc Dutroux, who is to stand trial for abduction, rape and murder.

He also brought the first successful case under the human rights law, in which two Rwandan nuns were sentenced to between 12 and 20 years for their part in the country's 1994 genocide.

The Belgian parliament watered down the law earlier this month after suits against U.S. President George W. Bush and key U.S. officials soured relations with the United States.

Under the reformed law, only Belgians or long-term residents of the country could bring a legal action, and only within strict conditions and international immunity rules