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Chad's Habre dragged into court as war crimes trial resumes

AFP file photo

Chad's former dictator Hissene Habre was forcibly carried into a Senegalese court on Monday for the resumption of his war crimes trial after he refused to attend the hearing.


"The accused will not come to the courtroom," prosecutor Mbacke Fall announced as the hearing got under way, asking the court to send for the former president.

The hearing was quickly suspended by Gberdao Gustave Kam, the Burkinabe president of the Extraordinary African Chambers, to force Habre, who was in the building, to enter the dock.

He then had to be restrained by masked security guards as the charges against him were read out.

“Shut up! Shut up!” Habre shouted at the clerk as the indictment was read, according to images transmitted on state broadcaster RTS.

Habre – backed by France and the United States as a bulwark against Libya's then leader Moamer Kadhafi – is on trial over actions under his regime from 1982 until he was ousted in 1990.

The 72-year-old is accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture during his blood-soaked reign.

Some 40,000 Chadians were killed under a regime of brutal repression of opponents and rival ethnic groups Habre perceived as a threat to his grip on the Sahel nation, according to a Chadian commission of inquiry and human rights groups.

Habre refuses to recognise the legitimacy of the Dakar prosecution, the first time a despot from one African country has been called to account in another.

The court has appointed three attorneys to defend him after he refused legal representation. It adjourned in July to give the lawyers time to prepare a defence, but Habre wants nothing to do with them.

After he was overthrown, Habre fled to Senegal where he was arrested in June 2013 and has since been in custody.

Delayed for years, the ongoing trial sets an historic precedent as African leaders accused of atrocities were previously tried in international courts.


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