Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Chad's ex-dictator convicted, sentenced to life for abuses

Published:Tuesday | May 31, 2016 | 5:00 AM
Chad’s former dictator Hissene Habre raises his hand during court proceedings in Dakar, Senegal, yesterday. Judge Gberdao Gustave Kam declared Habre guilty and sentenced him to life in prison for crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture in a packed courtroom.

DAKAR, Senegal (AP):

Former Chad dictator Hissene Habre was found guilty yesterday of crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture and sex crimes during his rule and was sentenced to life in prison, ending a trial more than 15 years in the making.

Victims, former prisoners and their relatives broke out into whoops of joy, hugs and tears in the courtroom when the ruling was announced by the three-judge panel in the special court in Senegal.

A defiant Habre raised his fist and shouted to his supporters: "Long live independent Africa! Down with France-Africa!"

His wife wept and his backers called him a defender of Africa as the 73-year-old Habre was escorted from court.

He was convicted of being responsible for thousands of deaths and torture in prisons while in power from 1982 to 1990. A 1992 Chadian Truth Commission accused Habre's government of systematic torture, saying 40,000 people died during his rule. It placed particular blame on his police force.

The Extraordinary African Chambers was established by Senegal and the African Union to put Habre on trial for the crimes committed during his rule. It was the first trial in which the courts of one country prosecuted the former ruler of another for alleged human rights crimes, and the first universal jurisdiction case to proceed to trial on the continent.

The trial began in July 2015, but victims and survivors have been pursuing the case against their former leader for more than 15 years. Over 90 witnesses testified.