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Ex-Chad leader charged with crimes against humanity

Video by Richelle HARRISON PLESSE

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-07-03

Chad’s former leader was charged with crimes against humanity and torture on Tuesday, his lawyers told FRANCE 24. Hissène Habré was charged at a special court in Senegal over the killings of some 40,000 people during his eight-year-reign in Chad.

Senegalese authorities charged former Chadian dictator Hissène Habré with crimes against humanity and remanded him in custody on Tuesday, in a prosecution seen by many as a milestone for African justice.

The 70-year-old was also charged with war crimes and torture during his eight years in power in Chad, where rights groups say 40,000 people were killed under his rule, his lawyers told FRANCE 24.

Habré was arrested on Sunday in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, where he has been living freely in exile for 22 years.

Years of procrastination

The case against Habré, who ruled Chad between 1982 and 1990, follows years of procrastination by Senegal under former president Abdoulaye Wade. It will be first time the former leader of an African state has been tried by another.

“The wheels of justice are turning”, said Reed Brody, counsel for Human Rights Watch who has worked with Habre’s victims since 1999, in an interview with Reuters on Sunday. “After 22 years, Habré’s victims can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Visiting Senegal on Thursday, US President Barack Obama highlighted Senegal as an example in Africa for the independence of its judiciary.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-07-02

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