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Iran Press TV

Former Chad dictator Habre sentenced to life in jail

Iran Press TV

Mon May 30, 2016 1:37PM

Former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre has been sentenced to life by a special court in Senegal.

The Extraordinary African Chambers (CAE), a special tribunal set up by the African Union under a deal with Senegal, convicted Habre on Monday of involvement in war crimes, crimes against humanity and a litany of other charges, including rape.

"Hissene Habre, this court finds you guilty of crimes against humanity, rape, forced slavery, and kidnapping," as well as war crimes, Gberdao Gustave Kam, president of the special court said, adding, "The court condemns you to life in prison."

Habre had been accused of kidnap, rape and torture of 40,000 people during his rule as president of Chad from 1982 to 1990. Rights campaigners have been seeking his prosecution, although he has always denied the crimes were committed upon his direct order.

Members of Habre's defense team unsuccessfully sought to convince the court that he had not been aware of the abuses committed by his notorious secret police, the Documentation and Security Directorate (DDS).

"What we have seen today is not justice. It is a crime against Africa," said Mahamat Togoi, part of a Habre supporters group.

However, lawyers representing the victims hailed the court ruling as a warning to other despots in Africa.

"This verdict sends a powerful message that the days when tyrants could brutalize their people, pillage their treasury and escape abroad to a life of luxury are coming to an end," Reed Brody, a lawyer for Human Rights Watch who has spent the last 15 years working with victims to bring Habre to justice, said in a statement.

Victims said the verdict was a solace to many families left without answers 25 years after Habre left office.

"A verdict proportionate with the crimes committed by Habre will allow many families to properly mourn and offer some comfort from the suffering we former prisoners endured," he said.

Habre fled to Senegal after his 1990 ouster by Chad's current President Idriss Deby. The skilled desert warrior, who was known for his combat fatigues during the leadership, has lived freely in an upmarket suburb of the Senegalese capital, Dakar, with his wife and children for more than 20 years.

The prosecution in Senegal was the first time a country in Africa has prosecuted a former leader of another nation for rights abuses.

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