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Jailed Chadian ex-leader Hissene Habre has died, says Senegal

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FILE PHOTO: Former Chad President Hissene Habre makes declarations to media as he leaves a court in Dakar, Senegal November 25, 2005. REUTERS/Aliou Mbaye/File Photo

Former Chadian president Hissene Habre, who was serving a life term in Senegal for war crimes and crimes against humanity, has died, Senegalese Justice Minister Malick Sall said Tuesday. He was 79.

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“Habre is in his Lord’s hands,” Sall told the television channel TFM.

Local media said he had died of Covid-19.

Habre seized power in Chad in 1982, fleeing to Senegal in 1990 after he was in turn overthrown.

The former leader was jailed in Senegal’s capital Dakar in 2016 after an African Union-backed trial over abuses committed during years of iron-fisted rule in Chad.

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Some 40,000 people are estimated to have been killed under Habre’s leadership of the semi-desert country.

Habre’s supporters continued to lobby for his freedom while he was in prison in Dakar, however.

The ex-dictator was released on a two-month furlough last year, designed to protect him from the coronavirus.

Reed Brody, a lawyer who represented Habre’s victims, said in a statement on Tuesday that there had been calls for the former leader to be vaccinated against the virus.

He nonetheless added that Habre will “go down in history as one of the world’s most pitiless dictators, a man who slaughtered his own people to seize and maintain power”.

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