Former Chad Dictator Habre Convicted in Senegal

Former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre has been found guilty for atrocities committed during his eight-year rule and sentenced to life in prison.

A special tribunal in Senegal issued its verdict Monday, convicting Habre of war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture and a number of other charges.   It said Habre also personally raped a female detainee four times.

It said Habre also personally raped a female detainee four times.

Human Rights Watch, which worked closely with victims of Habre to bring him to trial, said the verdict sends a 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.”

Habre was responsible for thousands of political killings during his rule in Chad from 1982 to 1990.  He fled to Senegal after being overthrown by Chad’s current president, Idriss Deby.

The former dictator was in court for the verdict, his face obscured behind a white scarf and sunglasses.  He now has 15 days to appeal the decision from the court, the African Union-backed Extraordinary African Chambers.

Court president Gberdao Gustave Kam of Burkina Faso said the judges noted that power in Chad was concentrated with Habre, who was president, defense minister and head of the armed forces.

He said Habre “created and maintained a system where impunity and terror were law. He was at the head of a regime of generalized suspicion, so paranoid that he himself turned against his own agents.”  

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