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Monday, May 30

Just In: Ex-Chadian Ruler Sentenced to Life Imprisonment in Historic Landmark Judgement

Ex-Chadian Ruler Sentenced to Life Imprisonment in Historic Landmark Judgement

Hissene Habre

Chad's ex-president, Hissene Habre has been convicted of crimes against humanity and sentenced to life in prison at a historic landmark trial in Senegal.

In a historic landmark judgement, the Extraordinary African Chambers in Dakar Senegal, on Monday, sentenced former Chadian dictator, Hissene Habre, to life imprisonment for human rights abuses, extrajudicial killings and rape.

Described as the first of its kind where a ruler of one country is convicted for human rights crimes by another country, the conviction and sentencing, brings relief to tens of thousands of his victims who have waited for justice for more than 25 years.

It also shows that there is no hiding place for present and former dictators, especially in Africa, who committed or are committing widespread human rights abuses in their countries.

It was learnt that the crimes for which he was convicted was committed between 1982 and 1990 when he ruled the Central African country with iron fist, and apart from the widespread right abuses committed by his junta, he was personally convicted for committing rape.

Gaetan Mootoo, Amnesty International West Africa researcher said, "This verdict is a victory for those victims who fought tirelessly to ensure Hissène Habré could not get away with crimes under international law.

"It demonstrates that when there is enough political will, states can work together effectively to end impunity in even the most entrenched situations.

"It is moments like these that other victims around the world can draw on in darker times when justice appears beyond reach. It will nourish them with hope and give them strength to fight for what is right.

"This landmark decision should also provide impetus to the African Union or individual African states to replicate such efforts to deliver justice to victims in other countries in the continent," he said.

Reed Brody from Human Rights Watch, who has worked on the case for 17 years and was in court for the judgement said, "Today will be carved into justice as the day that a band of unrelenting survivors brought their dictator to justice."

Throughout the trial, Habre refused to recognise the court's legitimacy, frequently disrupting proceedings. The ex-president denied accusations that he ordered the killing of 40,000 people during his rule from 1982 to 1990.

His critics dubbed him "Africa's Pinochet" because of the atrocities committed during his rule.

Survivors had recounted gruesome details of the torture carried out by Habre's feared secret police. One of the most notorious detention centres in the capital N'Djamena was a converted swimming pool.

Witnesses said victims endured electric shocks, near-asphyxia, cigarette burns and having gas squirted into their eyes.

Some were subjected to "supplice des baguettes" (torture by sticks), when the victim's head is put between sticks joined by rope which is then twisted.

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