Senegal dismisses reports of jailed Chad ex-ruler’s poor health

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Senegalese prison authorities said on Wednesday Chad’s former president Hissene Habre, who is jailed in Dakar for crimes against humanity, is doing well and in good health, dismissing reports and claims from his family that his condition has deteriorated.

A special court created by Senegal and the African Union sentenced Habre to life behind bars in 2016 for crimes committed during his 1982-1990 presidency, an unprecedented decision that was seen as a strike against the impunity enjoyed by repressive rulers.

“Hissene Habre is not bedridden and he is doing well,” the national penitentiary administration said in a statement to AFP on Wednesday.

It said it takes “all appropriate measures to ensure the state of health of any imprisoned person”.

The statement was in response to a report in the local Senegalese newspaper Vox Populi citing his doctors saying that Habre, 77, was no longer in a “condition compatible with imprisonment”.

“The state of health of President Habre has been in constant deterioration since the start of the year,” his wife Fatime Raymonne Habre, also said in a statement.

The Extraordinary African Chambers sentenced Habre in 2016 for war crimes and crimes against humanity after his conviction was hailed as a landmark for justice in Africa.

His appeal against the verdict was rejected.

Habre was ordered to pay up to 30,000 euros ($33,000) to each victim who suffered rape, arbitrary detention and imprisonment during his rule, as well as to their relatives.

His rule was marked by fierce crackdowns on dissent, including alleged torture and executions of opponents. Investigators found that more than 40,000 people were killed during his rule.

Habre fled to Senegal after his 1990 ouster by Chad’s current President Idriss Deby, and for more than 20 years lived freely in an upmarket Dakar suburb with his wife and children, until Senegalese authorities arrested him in 2013.