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Chad ex-dictator Habre sentenced to life in prison for war crimes

Former Chadian President Hissene Habre has been sentenced to life in prison by a Senegalese court. He was convicted on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture during his 1982-1990 rule.

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Hissène Habré found guilty of crimes against humanity

A special court in Senegal on Monday handed down a verdict of guilty against Chadian ex-dictator Hissene Habre, sentencing him to life imprisonment in what has been the first-ever trial of a former head of state in sub-Saharan Africa.

The 73-year-old was facing several charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including rape and sexual slavery.

Human rights groups have accused Habre of being responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people during his rule from 1982 to 1990.

More than 90 witnesses testified during the trial, which began in July 2015.

Habre has claimed that the proceedings were politically motivated, and refused legal representation, though the court appointed Senegalese lawyers for him.

Long exile in Dakar

The ex-dictator fled Chad in 1990 and has lived in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, since then. He was detained in Dakar in July 2013.

Chad's present government, led by President Idriss Deby, supported the trial. Deby was Habre's military adviser before bringing about his ouster.

Habre's case was heard by the Extraordinary African Chambers, a special criminal court established by the African Union under a special deal with Senegal.

Rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) has hailed the trial as a victory for Habre's victims.

"This case was not started by a prosecutor in the Hague, or by the Security Council. The architects, the visionaries of this case, are the Chadian victims themselves and their supporters," said Reed Brody, a HRW counsel who has been working on the case since 2000.

tj/rc (dpa, AFP)

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