Arusha, August 19, 2013 (FH) – The special court charged with trying former Chadian president Hissène Habré this Monday launched its investigations with a two-week mission to Chad, reports Radio France Internationale.

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Habré, who has been living in exile in Senegal for 22 years, was arrested on June 30 at his home in Dakar and charged two days later with crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture committed between 1982 and 1990 when he was in power in Chad.

The two-week mission is part of an international rogatory commission, according to RFI. The investigating magistrates will hear victims’ associations, prosecution and defence witnesses. They also plan to visit prisons dating from the 1980s and two sites said to be those of mass graves.

Habré’s lawyers declined an invitation to take part in the mission, according to RFI.

More than 1,000 victims have established themselves as civil parties against Habré. The current Chadian government has meanwhile started making an inventory of the former president’s assets, most of which are abroad, according to Justice Minister Jean-Bernard Padaré.

Documents from the Directorate of Documentation and Security, Habré’s political police, obtained by Human Rights Watch in 2001, revealed the names of 1,208 people who were executed or died in detention and 12,231 victims of various human rights abuses.

Habré was first indicted in Senegal in 2000. However, the Senegalese courts declared they did not have a mandate to try him, leading the victims to file a suit in Belgium. In September 2005, after four years of investigation, a Belgian judged indicted Habré and Brussels requested his extradition. After Senegal refused to extradite him and negotiations with the African Union were still dragging after three years, Belgium brought a complaint against Senegal before the International Court of Justice (ICJ). On July 20, 2012, the ICJ ordered Senegal to try Habré without delay or extradite him to Belgium.