Obama welcomes trial of ex-dictator

2013-06-27 22:59
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Barack Obama in Senegal

US President Barack Obama has started his three-nation trip to Africa with a visit to Senegal. See all the pictures.

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Dakar - US President Barack Obama on Thursday hailed Senegal's efforts to prosecute former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre as a sign of the country's commitment to justice in Africa, his adviser said.

Obama, in Dakar on the first day of a three-nation tour of Africa, talked about the case with Senegalese President Macky Sall and commended the west African nation for setting up a special court in February to try Habre, who is accused of war crimes.

"This is a trial that we have supported and we welcome Senegal's leadership in undertaking this effort to see that justice is done and in fact we have committed resources in support of their efforts," said US deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes.

"It came up in the context of the president commending Senegal working with us and others to see that justice is done."

Habre's trial, delayed for years by Senegal where he has lived since being ousted in 1990, will set a historic precedent as until now African leaders accused of atrocities have only been tried in international courts.

Habre is accused of crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture during his eight years in power in Chad, where rights groups report that some 40 000 people were killed under his rule.

Senegal and the African Union (AU) signed an agreement in December to set up the court, which has a budget of €7.4m to try Habre for the offences, allegedly committed between 1982 and 1990.

The AU had mandated Senegal to try Habre in July 2006, but the country stalled the process for years under former president Abdoulaye Wade.

His successor, Macky Sall, who took office in April 2012, ruled out extraditing Habre to Belgium, which was prepared to try him, and vowed to organise a trial in Senegal.

Read more on:    hissene habre  |  barack obama  |  macky sall  |  senegal  |  us  |  chad  |  west africa
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