Senegal forces Chad dictator to appear as atrocities trial begins: AFP

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Chadian former dictator Hissene Habre was led by force into the dock on Monday as his trial began in Senegal for atrocities committed during his brutal eight-year rule, an AFP correspondent witnessed.

Dressed in white robes and a turban, the 72-year-old raised a fist and cried “God is greatest” as he was escorted by prison guards into the Extraordinary African Chambers in Dakar.

Arrested two years ago at his home in the Senegalese capital, Habre is on trial for crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture in Chad from 1982 to 1990.

He had said he did not recognise the court’s jurisdiction and vowed that he and his lawyers would play no part, but was warned that under Senegalese law he could still be forced to turn up.

The court heard that Habre was not represented as the president of the chamber, Judge Gberdao Gustave Kam of Burkina Faso, opened proceedings just after 10:00am (1000 GMT).

Several supporters screamed slogans condemning the trial in the lobby of the Dakar courthouse and were thrown out by police.

“I am sad, I am ashamed. This is happening in a country like Senegal,” one supporter said, describing the military strongman as “a liberator of Chad”.

Another described the trial as a “Western conspiracy”.