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Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Senegal takes steps to try Chad's fugitive Habre

Senegal begins preparations Hissene Habre's trial, the former dictator of Chad who is accused of crimes against humanity and torture, and almost 40,000 murder cases

AFP , Saturday 2 Jun 2012
Former Chad President Hissene Habre makes declarations to media as he leaves a court in Dakar, Senegal November 25, 2005. (Photo: Reuters)

Senegal has begun preparations to try Chad's former dictator Hissene Habre for war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture after being accused of dragging its feet for years.

The justice ministry said a working group had met Friday to debate the practical aspects of staging the trial in line with Senegal's international commitments and with the support of the African Union.

The group comprises representatives of the judiciary, the prison system, the foreign ministry and human rights groups, the justice ministry said Saturday in a statement.

"The government intends to do everything necessary to enable the working group to carry out its mission, given the great expectations that this matter arouses in Africa and the world," it said.

The statement stressed Dakar's "strong determination to combat all forms of impunity, whoever the accused may be, with a fair and equitable trial."

Chad's former president, now aged 69, fled to Senegal after he was overthrown in 1990. A 1992 truth commission report in Chad said he had presided over up to 40,000 political and ethnic-related killings.

Senegal agreed in 2006 to African Union demands that he be put on trial but failed to do anything, arguing that it lacked the resources.

Meanwhile it blocked demands for his extradition from Belgium, which wanted to try him under its "universal jurisdiction" law after a complaint was lodged by a Belgian of Chadian origin.

Belgium finally took Senegal to the International Court of Justice, the UN's highest court, which heard the case in March but has yet to rule on it.

At the hearing in The Hague Senegal denied it was dodging its legal obligations, insisting that it planned to put Habre on trial.

Dakar's latest moves follow the defeat, also in March, of veteran Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade, who repeatedly said that his country had neither the "ad hoc" jurisdiction nor the funds.

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