Senegal court to hear appeal of Chadian ex-leader in January

by Reuters
Tuesday, 20 December 2016 12:41 GMT

DAKAR, Dec 20 (Reuters) - Former Chadian leader Hissene Habre's appeal against his conviction for war crimes and crimes against humanity will be heard in January, a court document showed on Tuesday.

Habre, 74, was sentenced to life imprisonment in May for crimes committed during his eight-year tenure as president of Chad before he was deposed in 1990. He was considered a key Cold War ally of the West against Libya during his rule.

A court document - signed by the Malian president of the special tribunal on Chad, Wafi Ougadeye - set Jan. 9 as the date for the appeal in Dakar. Habre's defence lawyers have refused to recognise the jurisdiction of the special tribunal, which was set up by Senegal and the African Union.

Habre fled to Senegal after being ousted in a coup by current leader Idriss Deby.

Victims had waited years for his trial and his conviction was widely hailed as a moment of hope for African justice.

"Habre's conviction was based on overwhelming evidence, including the files of his own political police, documents in his own handwriting, testimony from those who received his orders, witnesses whom he personally sent to prison, and a woman whom he raped," Reed Brody, an American lawyer who has worked with Habre's victims for 18 years, told Reuters.

A 1992 Chadian Truth Commission accused Habre's government of up to 40,000 political murders, mostly by his intelligence police, the Documentation and Security Directorate (DDS).

The trial was seen as highlighting African countries' ability to hold their own trials at a time of growing criticism on the continent of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, which many on the continent accuse of bias against Africans. (Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Nellie Peyton Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)

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