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Ex-Chad dictator Habre's lawyers appeal life sentence

Lawyers of Hissene Habre have appealed the life sentence of the former Chadian dictator. Last month, a special court sentenced Habre to life imprisonment for war crimes, crimes against humanity and sex crimes.

Lawyer Mounir Ballal said Saturday the appeal was submitted on Friday to the Extraordinary African Chambers, a criminal court established by the African Union under a special deal with Senegal.

Habre was not consulted before the appeal, but it would not affect the appeal process, said defense lawyer Mbaye Sene and tribunal spokesperson Marcel Mendy.

The 73-year-old former dictator declined to address the special tribunal in Dakar throughout the 10-month long trial and refused to recognize its authority.

"We formally made the appeal yesterday (Friday) against the unfavorable verdict reached on May 30," Sene said.

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 20 witnesses testified during the trial, which began in July 2015.

Long exile in Dakar

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

It was the first time a country prosecuted a former leader of another nation for rights abuses.

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

Rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) 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.

Watch video 01:47

Hissène Habré found guilty of crimes against humanity

shs/bk (AP, AFP)

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