Ex-Chadian Dictator Throws Tantrums At Trial

Hissene Habre ruled Chad from 1982 to 1990 and is standing trial at the Extraordinary African Chambers in Senegal, where he has been in exile. Photo: Human Rights Watch
Hissene Habre ruled Chad from 1982 to 1990 and is standing trial at the Extraordinary African Chambers in Senegal, where he has been in exile. Photo: Human Rights Watch

Former Chadian dictator who ruled between 182 and 1990, Hissene Habre, attempted to play the victim at the resumption of his trial at the Extraordinary African Chambers, a special court inaugurated by Senegal and the African Union in 2013 for the prosecution of persons responsible for international crimes in Chad during that period.

Habre is standing trial on charges of crimes against humanity, torture and war crimes committed while he was in power.

At Monday’s resumed trial after a 45 day break so that Habre’s courted-appointed lawyers would familiarise themselves with the case, the former Chadian dictator refused to enter the court, forcing the judge to order that he be brought in by force.

After some minutes of suspense, he was bundled into the court by Senegalese guards who forced him into a chair and held down.

“He stood up, he shouted, he waved his arms about… but everything he did just reminded everyone in the courtroom that he’s not in charge anymore and doesn’t call the shots,” Reed Brody, counsel and spokesperson for Human Rights Watch, said.






     

     

    “Habré’s ranting is apparently an attempt to play the victim. He wants people to think that he’s somehow been wronged, that a dark conspiracy is plotting against him,” Broody observed.

    Habre’s trial, which will see 70 survivors testify before the court in the next few months, is the first time in the world that a former ruler of a country would be tried by the courts of another country for human rights offenses.

    It is also the first universal jurisdiction – a system in international law where the most serious crimes are committed abroad by a foreigner and against foreign victims – case to lead to a trial in Africa.

    If found guilty, the Chambers, headed by Gberdao Gustave Kam of Burkina Faso, can sentence Habre to life, order him to pay a fine or forfeit proceeds, property or assets acquired directly or indirectly from the crimes.

     

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