Trial of former Chad dictator Habre suspended to Nov 9

Chad's then-President Hissene Habre, in 1987. Photo: AFP

Chad’s then-President Hissene Habre, in 1987. Photo: AFP

The trial of exiled Chadian dictator Hissene Habre for war crimes and crimes against humanity has been suspended until November 9, the president of the special tribunal in Senegal said Thursday.

“The court will use this time to review” the records, said Gberdao Gustave Kam, president of the Extraordinary African Chambers.

The 73-year-old Habre is making history in the dock of a special tribunal in Senegal over his regime’s brutality — the first time a despot from one African country has been called to account by another.

Habre, who fled to Senegal after being deposed in 1990, is being prosecuted in his adoptive country’s capital Dakar for war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture during eight years of repression.

His trial was originally scheduled to conclude October 28, but “will likely last until February,” Marcel Mendy a spokesman for the tribunal told AFP Thursday.

“We still have 20 witnesses to question in Dakar and others who are in N’Djamena,” said Mendy.

Kam said the November 9 hearing will start with the testimony of Clement Abaifouta of the Association of Victims of Crimes of the Regime of Hissene Habre.

Rights groups say 40,000 people were killed during a regime marked by fierce repression of opponents and the targeting of rival ethnic groups — although an investigating commission says the real toll is likely to be far higher.

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