Final verdict for Chad's Habre on war crimes appeal

2017-04-27 11:12
(File : AFP)

(File : AFP) (Patrick Hertzog, AFP)

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Dakar - Chad's former president Hissene Habre will learn on Thursday if his lawyers' appeal against sentences for war crimes, crimes against humanity and rape have been successful, following his landmark conviction by a special court last year.

The Extraordinary African Chambers, a body created by Senegal and the African Union (AU), sentenced Habre last May to life behind bars, an unprecedented ruling seen as a blow to the impunity long enjoyed by repressive rulers on the continent.

In July, the court further ruled that Habre should give up to $33,000 to each victim of abuses committed during his 1982-1990 rule, as well as to their relatives.

The appeal will began at 10:00 GMT in Dakar, and as of Wednesday it was unclear whether Habre himself would appear.

The former desert warrior refuses to recognise the court's authority, so the appeal was mounted on his behalf by his court-appointed lawyers.

Habre's conviction brought closure for relatives of up to 40 000 people killed and many more kidnapped, raped or tortured during his time as president.

Reed Brody, a US-based lawyer who has worked closely with Habre's victims to secure the conviction, said he would be "astonished and devastated if the conviction were overturned".

"It doesn't seem possible given the weight of the evidence and the fairness of the procedure," he said in an interview with AFP, describing Habre's charge sheet as "among the most well-documented crimes in Africa".

If his conviction is upheld, Habre will serve his sentence in Senegal or in another AU country.

The trial set a global precedent as the first time a country had prosecuted the former leader of another nation for rights abuses, and was seen as a landmark example of African rights abuses being tried on the continent.

One of Habre's lawyers, who asked not to be named, said he was "confident" of his team's chances, lashing out at what he termed "Western sponsors" of the trial.

Souleymane Guengueng, who heads a Habre victims' association, said he was "not at all worried," adding that if justice was done "the life sentence of Hissene Habre will be upheld."

Habre fled to Senegal after his 1990 ouster by Chad's current President Idriss Deby, and for more than 20 years lived freely in an upmarket Dakar suburb with his wife and children.

Read more on:    au  |  hissene habre  |  idriss deby  |  senegal  |  chad  |  west africa

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