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Chad’s ex-president awaits ruling in rights trial


ICC headquarters, Hague. Image source wikipedia

ICC headquarters, Hague. Image source wikipedia

CHAD’S former ruler, Hissene Habre, faces a three-month wait to learn his fate after a landmark human rights trial in Senegal at which victims gave harrowing accounts of arbitrary detention, torture and prisoners being forced to dig mass graves.

Prosecutors recommended life in prison during closing arguments to the court this week if Habre is convicted of war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture. Defence lawyers were addressing the court yesterday, and the three judges are expected to rule in May.

Habre ruled from 1982 to 1990, when he fled into exile in Senegal.Two years later, a truth commission in Chad said 40,000 acts of political murder and torture occurred during his tenure, mostly by his feared Documentation and Security Directorate.

It is the first time one country’s domestic courts have tried a former leader of another on human rights charges, and activists say this route could provide an alternative to the International Criminal Court (ICC) based in The Hague.

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