Africa

Hissene Habre: Chad's ex-leader carried into court

Security personnel surround former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre inside the court in Dakar, Senegal, Monday, July 20, 2015 Image copyright AP
Image caption Hissene Habre was also forced into the court in July

Chad's ex-leader Hissene Habre has been held down by masked security officers in the courtroom at the resumption of his trial for war crimes in the Senegalese capital Dakar.

Mr Habre had to be forcibly brought to court having refused to attend.

He disrupted proceedings, shouting at the clerk who was reading out a list of names of some of his alleged victims.

Mr Habre is accused of ordering the killing of 40,000 people during his rule in the 1980s, charges he denies.

The trial marks the first time one African country has prosecuted the former leader of another.

Mr Habre refuses to recognise the legitimacy of the court, a special tribunal set up in Dakar at the behest of the African Union.

"Shut up! Shut up," he shouted, as the court clerk read out the charge sheet.

One of his alleged victims, Fatime Sakine, tortured during 15 months in prison from 1984-1986, likened the former leader's behaviour in court to that of "a spoilt child who won't take his medicine", Reuters news agency reports.

Earlier, new lawyers appointed to represent him told the BBC Mr Habre had refused to speak to them.

If he refuses to recognise his newly appointed legal team, the judge will have to decide whether to adjourn proceedings or try Mr Habre against his will, reports BBC West Africa correspondent Thomas Fessy, who is in court.

The trial opened in July but was adjourned after Mr Habre refused to co-operate with the court.

Image copyright HRW/Andrew Stroehlein
Image caption Alleged victims of the Habre regime are attending court for the trial

With many Africans denouncing the International Criminal Court as neo-colonial, this trial is considered a chance for the continent to show it can hold its leaders to account, our correspondent adds.

The trial follows a 25-year campaign to bring him to justice.

Many of Mr Habre's alleged victims have been calling for him to face justice since his overthrow and exile in Senegal in 1990.


Who is Hissene Habre?

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Media captionWho is Hissene Habre and what exactly is he accused of?

• Born in 1942 to ethnic Toubou herders in northern Chad

• Given scholarship to study political science in France

• First came to the world's attention in 1974 when his FAN rebels captured three European hostages to ransom for money and arms

• Seized power in 1982 allegedly with the help of the CIA and ousted by current President Idriss Deby in 1990

• Accused of systematically persecuting groups he distrusted

• A former swimming pool was used as an underground prison where survivors say they were subjected to electric shocks, near-asphyxia and "supplice des baguettes", when their heads were squeezed between sticks

Battle to bring Habre to court

Profile: Hissene Habre


Parallels have been drawn between the Habre process and attempts to get the former Chilean military leader Augusto Pinochet extradited and put on trial for crimes against humanity in Spain in 1998, leading Mr Habre to to be called "Africa's Pinochet".

A Chadian truth commission found in 1992 that the Habre regime was responsible for 40,000 deaths and disappearances.

In 2005, a court in Belgium issued a warrant for his arrest, claiming universal jurisdiction but, after Senegal referred the issue to the African Union, the AU asked Senegal to try Mr Habre "on behalf of Africa".

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