Chad closes file on missing leader

2013-07-25 18:23

N'Djamena - A judicial inquiry into the disappearance of Chadian opposition leader Ibni Oumar Mahamat Saleh during a rebel offensive in 2008 has dismissed his case without taking any further action, according to documents seen by AFP on Thursday.

The magistrates' report said the inquiry had failed to identify anyone responsible for the illegal detention of several members of Chad's opposition as rebels attempted to topple President Idriss Deby Itno in February 2008.

Human rights groups and opposition politicians have long claimed that Saleh, who was spokesperson for the main Chadian opposition coalition, was severely beaten by government security forces after he was detained.

He has not been seen since his abduction on 3 February 2008, and an initial inquiry concluded that year the opposition leader and mathematician was in all likelihood "dead".

The latest inquiry was opened in June 2009 into attempted abductions, forced disappearances and murders as government forces pushed back a rebel alliance that marched into the capital of N'Djamena.

Thursday's report emphasised the "unquestionable" involvement of government forces in the "illegal detention" of another opposition figure, Lol Mahamat Choua, but added the inquiry was "not able to name him or those" who had ordered him to be held captive.

Choua and another opposition leader, Ngarleji Yorongar, were released after weeks in detention, but Saleh was never seen again.

The report added that "serious material destruction had taken place, as well as many deaths" as government forces, backed by French intelligence, fought the rebels.

Rights groups have condemned roadblocks placed in the path of the Chadian investigators. In April 2012, international and local human rights charities denounced government and military officials acting with "impunity".

In 2010, the Chadian government allowed two ministers to give witness statements, including the interior minister at the time of the rebel offensive, Kamougue Wadal Adbelkader, but no further action was taken as a result.